Amy Johnson has some unfinished business. Colleen Rosenberg doesn’t.
After 70.4 miles of hiking on the Appalachian Trail, the two friends are back in town, cutting their spring trip short by 130 miles. Rosenberg got sick -- a head and chest cold. They threw in the towel in Franklin, N.C., after spending one night in a motel.
“When you think about the Appalachian Trail and think how hard it is, (multiply) it by 25,” said Rosenberg, who co-owns Brother’s General Store with her husband, Irvin “Brother” Rosenberg.
The friends hiked 11 days, starting at Clingman’s Dome in the Smoky Mountains, and headed south. Their first day, May 21, was Johnson’s 50th birthday.
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The two had planned the trip for several months and thought they’d be gone about three weeks. Rosenberg had long dreamed of hiking some of the trail and trained by walking long distances with a pack. Johnson, a guidance counselor at Downtown Elementary, didn’t train at all but felt like her heart was in it.
Rosenberg, 58, bragged on her friend for pushing hard and making the miles.
Johnson loved the days but had a hard time in the mornings and evenings.
“I hated the nights,” Johnson said, “and the mornings were gray and damp and not cheery. But once I got going I was fine.”
They had just one night of rain, and the rest was clear. Johnson took her camera and captured mountain-top scenes as well as close-ups of wildflowers, a deer and hillside ferns.
They took hammocks but ended up shipping them home because of the extra weight; they mostly slept in shelters that are spaced along the trail.
Rosenberg laments she didn’t make it to Georgia, which contains about 75 miles of the historic trail. The Georgia-North Carolina border is about 65 miles from their stopping point. Johnson aims to finish this section, and go for more. All told, the “A.T.” measures 2,100 from Georgia to Maine.
“It’s a big challenge; that’s why I liked it,” Johnson said.
“I feel such a great sense of accomplishment, but I wouldn’t do it again,” said Rosenberg, who motivated herself by daydreaming of spaghetti. “I love my bed and my shower.”