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. 

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