Clay and I had been discussing the AT for years before we actually started our hike. In the many conversations we had, not once did we talk about the changing seasons. But this made sense; in normal everyday life we’re busy people who are always headed somewhere with too little time. Sure the seasons are noticed, but we only see the big, really obvious changes that everyone outside of a shoebox notices.
On the trail, life is still surprisingly busy with goals and timelines, and in meeting our daily mileage goals we have a LOT of time to look around us and literally smell the roses. It was interesting and unique to watch the leaves start to bud during our first couple weeks on the trail. We noticed what had been previously ignored forest floor coverings (some of which we gave “trail names” to) grow from 2 inch to 12 inch plants. It was surprisingly difficult to be off the trail for 8 days knowing that we would miss the leaves developing and new flowers blossoming.
Sure enough, when we returned to the trail we were walking in a full-blown Green Tunnel, which so happens to be a nickname of the AT. Just as we were surprised with the daily changes of spring, we now get to marvel at the progress of summer. Almost every day we stop to smell a new aroma: blossoming flowers that we compare to apricots or lilacs, ground coverings that smell of cucumbers and bushes that smell like uniquely of menthol. The rhododendron thickets are blossoming now and to complete the fairytale-like image, we have even seen baby animals learning from their mothers. Yep, the woods are a pretty place.