There are few people that I’ve crossed paths with that truly inspire moments of respectful pause, followed by intense excitement for their life’s aspirations. Maria Icenogle is one of those people. At the age of 29, she will embark on a journey that will most likely mold and shape her life forever – a challenging hike via the Appalachian Trail.
Starting this Saturday, April 23, at Springer Mountain, Georgia, Maria aims to follow the famous American trail for the next five to seven months. If all goes as planned, Maria will be strolling through the “Hundred-Mile Wilderness” of Maine in October and most deservedly in need of a large pepperoni pizza with extra cheese.
“When I was 10 years old, my family took a trip to Appalachia where my grandmother was born,” explained Maria. “I was immediately intrigued by the people, and by the history of the Appalachian Range. At 16, I backpacked for the first time, which included hiking along the AT. This experience really connected the dots for me: The history of the land, love of the outdoors, and a footpath daring to be explored. Although I’ve lived in Colorado for nearly a decade, and am hopelessly addicted to what the Rockies have to offer, the lure of the AT still beckons me.”
Maria needs the encouragement of the Snowshoe Magazine community (its supporting readership and partners) to help her launch this amazing journey. And so far, that has happened with the support of several gear and apparel companies stepping up to provide Maria with the tools she’ll need for the trail.
Notably, Mile High Mountaineering has provided Maria with the most important part of her gear arsenal: the Divide 55 backpack. This 55-65 liter pack has all the essential features that will help Maria carry all she needs to survive in the AT backcountry. For more information about this pack, visit http://www.mhmgear.com/products/packs/divide-55.
For shelter and warmth, Maria chose the Big Agnes Fly Creek Ultralight tent, Kelty Light Year XP 20 Degree sleeping bag, and the Thermarest Neoair sleeping pad. To help alleviate the stress of daily hiking, Maria will be using the Black Diamond Ultralight Trekking Poles.
For her water purification needs, Maria plans to use the Steripen Adventurer Opti. This water purifier effectively destroys giardia, cryptosporidium, bacteria and viruses in seconds, and provides up to 8,000 one-liter treatments using UV light. For more information about Steripen Adventurer Opti and its solar charging case, visit http://www.steripen.com/-adventurer-opti-solar-charger.
Another vital part of Maria’s gear arsenal is the powermonkey-eXplorer. This solar charger will help with recharging her iPhone and other battery-powered accessories: https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/primatepower/powermonkey-explorer.
Apparel support comes from Columbia’s Peak Power Shell and insect blocker clothing; Patagonia Nano Puff lightweight jacket; Icebreaker merino wool base layers; KEEN socks; and SCARPA boots.
“At this point, I’m being careful not to set rigid goals, but to keep the end goal in mind and recalculate as I go along,” Maria said. “Not having tackled this long of a hike before, it’s hard to know what is reasonable beyond what I read of others’ experiences. I’m going to listen to my body, push my boundaries, and carefully avoid any chance of injury – especially in the first couple of weeks as I’m getting acclimated. I’d like to get to a solid pace of at least 15 miles per day.”
Don’t forget to send Maria your words of encouragement and support. Follow Maria on her AT journey by reading her upcoming blog on Snowshoe Magazine (more details on this later). Join her Facebook group to view photos and updates: http://on.fb.me/glmJNv. And, of course, follow Maria AT tweets on Twitter: http://twitter.com/prettyintents.
Maria, I wish you all the best on your AT adventures. Be safe and enjoy the adventure!
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River –
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin like a breeze