July 18, 2012 - Two long-time Clarkston residents are in the midst of the adventure of a lifetime as they hike the entire Appalachian mountain trail, from Georgia to Maine.
Mark and Julie Lamphier of Clarkston take a break beside a mountain stream, as they hike the Appalachian Trail. Photo provided (click for larger version)
Mark and Julie Lamphier, or EZ and Gravity as they are called on the trail, left in March and just recently crossed into New York. However, they still have over 800 miles left in their journey, which should be completed by mid-September.
The entire Appalachian Trail system is 2,180 miles long and crosses through 14 states. For more information about the trails, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/home.
The Lamphiers have not always been big hikers. In fact, their first hike was with a church group nine years ago. After the hike, they have been on a hiking trip at least once every year.
One of the trips would introduce them to the Appalachian Trail with a section hike of the mountains. They talked about how it would be neat to hike the entire trail since they enjoyed it so much.
They made the decision to hike the trail this year for a number of reasons, the biggest being the point where they were in their lives.
Julie said they just became empty nesters and were thinking about what's coming next in their lives. She added hiking the trail has been a great way for them to play a little while they think about what's next.
After they decided they were going to hike the trail, there wasn't much they could do to prepare. They hiked at Independence Oaks to get ready, but in the end, they really trained when they started on the trail.
Julie said there's nothing in Clarkston to prepare them for the hills and other experiences on the trail. Because of it, they both agreed the beginning was the most challenging part of the trail so far.
"Even though it is exciting to be out on the trail, your body just isn't ready for what it's going to experience," she added.
Although they still have a long way to go, they have already been changed by their experience on the trail. They've witnessed a lot of amazing views, crossed bears and snakes and met a lot of amazing people.
In addition, they've lost a lot of weight and are glad to have found a way to be in shape they can still do.
They also said the trail has strengthened their relationship with each other.
Throughout their time on the trail, the Lamphiers have been blogging about their experiences and posting pictures of all the wonderful things they've seen.
Learn more about their experience at markandjulielamphier.blogspot.com.