Being from Canada, I am very interested in learning more about the incredible hiking culture in the United States.  Thru-hikes, specially the Appalation Trail seem to be constantly abuzz with thru-hikers, section hikers, day hikers – you name it and someone is hiking it.

I was delighted to have the following interview come back to me from Phyllis Margettes in Georgia, USA. The reader can pick up on the hiking culture that we just do not seem to have in the Canadian areas that I am from. For example, trail names like “Freebird”. These trail names are bestowed on Thru-hikers who have done many many miles of hiking and have extensive knowledge hiking – specially thru-hiking.

Thanks Margaret – I hope to hear from more thru-hikers…

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

When I was little my mother and I lived in Savannah, GA.  She o ften took me to the wildlife refuge in South Carolina right across the Talmadge Bridge. She encouraged me to explore and taught me to do castings in plaster of animal tracks.

What has been your favourite hiking / biking or outdoor area?

I love the AT (Appalation Trail), but the Cohutta Wilderness in north Georgia holds a very special place in my heart.  Lake Conasauga was built by the Corps and is the highest lake in Ga.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I have 2 children of whom is in a wheelchair.  When he was off at his fun camps I started taking my daughter for a week of camping.  She was five when we started. We tried out the “Tear Britches” Trail once in our search for the Consauga River. When we found it …well let’s say the beginnings of rivers more resemble a small stream. Alittle disappointing at the time, but a good memory now.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Never been lost yet!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

We stayed at Thomas Knob Shelter several years ago and enjoyed the company of a very friendly doe. She walked into camp and hung around hoping for handouts.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I have done several section hikes always with a dog and either my daughter or friends.  Like many folks I have found that lightening the load helps with the pleasure of the trip.  We have developed a routine of taking a lunch break during which we remove shoes and socks and elevate our feet. May be a mental break as well as we always feel refreshed and ready to push on.  Time the time to stop at a place that takes your breath away, watch the fire newt, give the black snake time to move out his sunny spot that also happens to be your path. Breath and enjoy the moments.  As a woman I get a great deal of pleasure at feeling self sufficient out on the trail. My husband is not a hiker, but is supportive and proud of me.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Love Mt. Rogers Outfitters in Damascus…extremely helpful.  Uncle Johnny’s in Erwin is great as well….Freebird works there and is a wealth of knowledge.

Thanks for asking for my input.  My biggest suggestion is that one should do what you can….don’t wait to hike a thru thinking I’ll do it someday.  While you may do it some day between now and then you can have some great mini adventures and memories.