Colton woman conquers Appalachian Trail
Colton resident Carol Wilson just returned home after completing the second leg of her hike across all of the Appalachian Trail, the world's longest hiking-only trail.
The trail extends between Georgia and Maine and covers 14 states and 2190.9 miles.
The task was grueling, as she encountered heavy rains, humidity and steep climbs, but Wilson is no stranger to hiking. She first learned about long-distance hiking years ago, when she began hiking up and down the Pacific Crest Trail. There, she continually encountered thru-hikers, those in the process of hiking the whole trail.
"So every time I met somebody, I would bombard them with any number of questions," Wilson said, "and realized that it was something I would really like to do in my lifetime."
Wilson did complete the Pacific Crest Trail over the course of two trips in 2012 and 2013.
"So, after I did the PCT, I wanted to be a triple crowner, which means hiking the three longest trails that run south to north in the USA," Wilson said.
So in 2017, Wilson set out on the Appalachian Trail, hoping to conquer it all in one go. But in order to keep her schedule, she pushed too many daily miles than she should have and overstressed her knees and legs, forcing her off the trail in May 2017 after 1,023 miles.
She picked back up in June of this year and finished on Sept. 2, making her a member of the 2,000-miler club.
Along the way, Wilson stayed at campgrounds, with relatives and even with strangers. Her husband Wayne sent her supply boxes that she had packed before leaving home. She completed round two with no trouble, not so much as a cold, she said.
"It was wonderful to be able to finish in one piece," Wilson said.
One of the highlights of her trip was also one the most difficult stretches. She said hiking through the White Mountains in New Hampshire, though steep, provided some of the most beautiful views she has seen. There, she hiked Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in New Hampshire.
Wilson prefers to hike solo, but she said, she's never really alone.
"You meet people along the way, and a lot of people get trail families, 'tramilies'—people that end up camping at the same place," Wilson said.
According to Wilson, out on the trails, everyone says "hello," everyone is a friend, and all are known by their trail names. Wilson, originally from New Zealand, goes by Kiwilegs.
But in addition to other hikers, Wilson has a deeper, spiritual reason for never feeling alone.
"A lot of people ask me was I ever afraid and did I ever feel alone," Wilson said. "I always tell them I haven't felt afraid, because I am number one a Christian, and I believe that the Lord was with me when I was hiking; therefore I never felt alone. I always tell people I have the father, the son, the holy spirit and two angels, so there's a group of us."
Now that she's home, Wilson is enjoying spending time with her family, including her grandchildren and her husband Wayne.
"Her husband is very proud of her," Wayne piped in.
With both the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail under her belt, Wilson has just one trail left to attain what is known as The Triple Crown of Hiking—that is, the Continental Divide Trail.
She hopes to make a start on the Continental Divide, maybe even next year. She again plans to conquer the hike by splitting it in half, or possibly thirds. But next time, she may not be solo. She hopes her husband will be able to follow her through part of that hike.
For those interested in getting started in long-distance hiking, Wilson said a number of helpful Facebook groups exist, and she is also willing to answer any questions.