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Making Family Memories on the Appalachian Trail

Family group photo on the trail

Would you brave the wilderness on a national trail with two teenagers? That’s exactly what Megan Hempstead has done the past two summers. She and her two sons, Will (15) and Owen (13), have been exploring the Appalachian Trail, along with much laughter and bonding time.

Megan was inspired to try section hiking, especially after reading the memoir Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis.

“I’ve always loved being in nature and pushing myself with physical challenges,” she said. “Figuring out what I can do with this body I’ve been given is an act of self-love.”

The family selected Georgia both years as their entry point for the Appalachian Trail.

2021 – Started south at Neels Gap, covered 30 miles over 4 days and 3 nights, ended at Springer Mountain.

2022 – Began north at Neels Gap, covered 50 miles over 6 days and 5 nights, finished at Bly Gap.

“While we have a blended family now, it was just me and the boys for many years. Time with the three of us is something we never take for granted,” Megan explains. “One thing that I loved about trail hiking is the amount of time spent together. It’s a challenge, but we have to push through our hardest moments as a family.”


Training Tips

Test all of your gear before you go. We learned the hard way the first year that a brand-new gravity water filter didn’t work.

Also walk around with your pack beforehand. We used Palisades-Kepler State Park to practice.

Gear Recommendations

  • Hammocks with mosquito nets
  • Trekking poles
  • Jetboil
  • Garmin inReach

For food, we did Clif Bars, dried coconut, nut butters, freeze-dried meal kits, and Kodiak Cakes – their brownie cups were a favorite treat!

Favorite View

Tray Mountain

Parting Advice

Don’t let fear stop you. In this busy, sensory overload world, being in nature is one of the best things we can do.

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