Kuhlmann AT Story

Where do you train for the Appalachian Trail (“AT”), 2200 miles of hiking from Georgia to Maine, up and down mountains, on roots and rocks, in every kind of weather? For local hiker Karen Kuhlmann, the Fredericksburg Nature Trail in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park was the “perfect off-street gym.”

Karen began her AT hike on March 21, 2018, and finished on August 19, but the training began nine months earlier. Almost every day Karen grabbed her pack and hiking poles and headed for the park, making three or four circuits in the morning, and again in the evening. She said the roughness and variety of the park trails were extremely helpful preparing for the tough terrain on the AT: “I know every rock in the park!” She drove occasionally to Pedernales Falls State Park or Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to practice climbing, but the Fredericksburg Nature Trail was much more convenient and always enjoyable.

Karen became something of a celebrity at Lady Bird, the talk of the snowbirds camped nearby. At first, she was rumored to be homeless. In the end, she was an inspiration for others to get out and walk the nature trail.

How did her big adventure go? She “loved the AT,” but was very glad she had trained well. She walked between twelve and twenty miles per day and wore out five pairs of boots. Two ice storms in the Spring were followed by a week of 100-degree humidity in the summer and sleet on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Her feet are still sore.

Karen also has a big smile when she shows off her pictures, and enough stories and pictures to last forever. She is already talking about doing it again, “slower.”

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