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…G.G. (Grumpy, Grouchy, Grandma-60 from King, N.C.) and Beach Bum (50 from Galveston, Texas) both obese, slow (alternate trail names are Trudge 1 and Trudge 2-a play on Dr. Seuss’ characters) but obstinate and stubborn had somehow hiked 75 miles through the north Georgia mountains in three weeks while carrying 35 pound backpacks while our knees screamed at us to ditch our extra pounds of fat. As we breathlessly plopped down on a log following a very steep section, I asked Beach Bum, “So how many mountains did you climb today?” Picking up on the absurdity of the rhetorical question, she replied with a smirk, “Yesterday, I climbed mountains in two states.” We busted out laughing. It’s true. We were climbing a new mountain sometimes two or three every single day. That is what the Appalachian Trail is: mountain climbing. According to David “AWOL” Miller’s “A.T. Guide” by the time we had reached the North Carolina border, we had climbed 22 named mountains with a total elevation gain/loss of 23,459 feet. So what effect does incessant mountain climbing day after day have on an obese aging body? Well, in three weeks and 107 miles, I had lost 15 pounds and one pant size. My knee doctor (Dr. Kornegay in Winston-Salem, NC) was surprised to see me yesterday when he learned I had hiked over 100 miles since he last saw me. He mused what could possibly be wrong with knees that could do this. He said everything look good and was going to try me on new meds to manage my discomfort. Beach Bum and I noticed a big change in our abilities to manage the climbs from our first days in April to when we came off trail at the end of April. It’s incredible how quickly the human body, even older ones, respond to exercise. Muscles strengthen, breathing graduates from gasping to deep regulated breaths, and the spirit soars with every summit reached. Diet is also a factor in weight loss on an extended A.T. hike. Even though hikers indulge in daily Snicker bars and a lot of carbs in Ramen Noodle dinners, access to pizza, hamburgers/French Fries and ice cream are limited to once a week, at best, when we come off trail; the deficit of calorie input to output is extreme and results in weight loss. One of my goals for hiking the Appalachian Trail was to develop a new, healthier, lifestyle. Removing myself from society and all the fast food temptations, getting up every day to hike five plus miles up and down mountains, breathing in the fresh forest air and drinking from mountain springs (treated of course) all adds up to a regimen I would stack up against any military boot camp. The younger or older/fitter hikers might be putting in more, many more miles daily than we are, but we’re working just as hard if not more so. It took us 12.5 hours to hike the 7-mile section from Lance Creek campsite over Blood Mountain to Neels Gap. So if you’re reading this article on your computer with a bowl of chips and a soda wishing you could shed some unwanted weight ask yourself, “How many mountains did I climb today?” To follow Donalee “GG” White’s hiking blog head to <a href=”www.trailjournals.com/DGG”>www.trailjournals.com/DGG</a>”> G.G. (Grumpy, Grouchy, Grandma-60 from King, N.C.) and Beach Bum (50 from Galveston, Texas) both obese, slow (alternate trail names are Trudge 1 and Trudge 2-a play on Dr. Seuss’ characters) but obstinate and stubborn had somehow hiked 75 miles through the north Georgia mountains in three weeks while carrying 35 pound backpacks while our knees screamed at us to ditch our extra pounds of fat.
As we breathlessly plopped down on a log following a very steep section, I asked Beach Bum, “So how many mountains did you climb today?”
Picking up on the absurdity of the rhetorical question, she replied with a smirk, “Yesterday, I climbed mountains in two states.”
We busted out laughing. It’s true. We were climbing a new mountain sometimes two or three every single day.
That is what the Appalachian Trail is: mountain climbing. According to David “AWOL” Miller’s “A.T. Guide” by the time we had reached the North Carolina border, we had climbed 22 named mountains with a total elevation gain/loss of 23,459 feet.
So what effect does incessant mountain climbing day after day have on an obese aging body? Well, in three weeks and 107 miles, I had lost 15 pounds and one pant size. My knee doctor (Dr. Kornegay in Winston-Salem, NC) was surprised to see me yesterday when he learned I had hiked over 100 miles since he last saw me.
He mused what could possibly be wrong with knees that could do this. He said everything look good and was going to try me on new meds to manage my discomfort. Beach Bum and I noticed a big change in our abilities to manage the climbs from our first days in April to when we came off trail at the end of April. It’s incredible how quickly the human body, even older ones, respond to exercise. Muscles strengthen, breathing graduates from gasping to deep regulated breaths, and the spirit soars with every summit reached.
Diet is also a factor in weight loss on an extended A.T. hike. Even though hikers indulge in daily Snicker bars and a lot of carbs in Ramen Noodle dinners, access to pizza, hamburgers/French Fries and ice cream are limited to once a week, at best, when we come off trail; the deficit of calorie input to output is extreme and results in weight loss.
One of my goals for hiking the Appalachian Trail was to develop a new, healthier, lifestyle. Removing myself from society and all the fast food temptations, getting up every day to hike five plus miles up and down mountains, breathing in the fresh forest air and drinking from mountain springs (treated of course) all adds up to a regimen I would stack up against any military boot camp.
The younger or older/fitter hikers might be putting in more, many more miles daily than we are, but we’re working just as hard if not more so. It took us 12.5 hours to hike the 7-mile section from Lance Creek campsite over Blood Mountain to Neels Gap.
So if you’re reading this article on your computer with a bowl of chips and a soda wishing you could shed some unwanted weight ask yourself, “How many mountains did I climb today?”

The cover photo is a pic of Donalee “GG” White’s soaking in the view from Blood Mountain’s 4,461 foot peak.┬áTo follow GG’s ┬áhiking blog head to www.trailjournals.com/DGG

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