The 100-year trail: A century after Benton MacKaye proposed it, millions enjoy the A.T. each year

A wall of wind hurtles through the asphalt-covered mountain gap as I exit my car, popping open the trunk to rummage through the sea of stuff for any last-minute additions to the loaded backpack lying atop the mess. 

The air is chilly for early May, barely clearing 50, and I’m tired. It’s 4 p.m. on a Friday, the end of a long week made longer by ongoing complications from a home improvement project. I made a point of declaring that, regardless of the circumstances, I would be going backpacking this evening, but if I’m honest with myself, the treadmill of sifting and planning and losing and finding the gear I’d need to make it happen left me wondering if a brief overnight adventure was really worth all the effort. 

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.