Volunteering at the Appalachian Trail

Volunteering at the Appalachian Trail


Volunteering in Georgia by Jag Talon on Exposure

I happened to listen to this one episode of My Favorite Murder where they were talking about some dude who decapitated and ate his seatmate on the Greyhound bus in Canada. The next day, I rode the Greyhound for 16 hours straight from Philadelphia to Virginia. Good news: I'm not dead.

So I've been planning for this "volunteercation" for a while now, and, even though I wasn't exactly looking forward to the long-ass bus ride, I was excited because this was a different kind of vacation for me.

My vacations have often been about absorbing things: I usually go to museums, bars, and touristy sites when I go to a new place. I like doing all those things, but I felt like I needed to do something different this time around. I felt like I needed to contribute to something. So I thought maybe volunteering would be a good idea. Plus, I thought it would be a good workout to do some proper manual labor.

The work was unbelievably hard. I knew it would be hard work, but I didn't think it would be this hard. It was a lot of rock work: finding rocks, breaking rocks, digging holes for rocks, putting a rock on top of another rock, and carrying rocks. From 8 to 5. For two weeks.

Lots of moving

I work on my computer all day. Sitting on my ass. So moving a lot was actually kind of nice. I got to do a lot of squats by lifting rocks and pooping in a hole, lots of walking, lots of tree climbing (for fun, of course), and lots of sitting on the floor (because there aren't a lot of chairs in the wilderness).

It was not always fun, but I liked it. It was like my body needed it.

Lots of nature stuff

Every day after work I would head down to the creek to wash all the dirt off of me. I felt like a kid again bathing in creeks and showering in the rain.

After that I would go out to do some star watching, and I've never seen so many stars in my life! While it wasn't dark enough to see the Milky Way, it was dark enough to see a shit ton of stars. It was awesome.

Being disconnected for so long was weird, too—I always wanted to look at my phone except I couldn't do anything with it. I just didn't have any service. How am I supposed to 'Gram this nature? I didn't realize how badly I was addicted to it until I was on this trip.

Travel time

I was always hesitant to travel around the country because I like routine. I like doing the same stuff every day. But going to the Appalachian got me thinking: having the means to travel on my own around the US is probably an opportunity that won't happen again. So I better get my ass to work!