Three Cadette Girl Scouts from Troops 3541 and 1151 in the Fossil Valley Service unit recently spent their spring break hiking the first 34.2 mile section of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains of Georgia, earning four important badges and the experience of a lifetime.
“We have been practice hiking in our neighborhood, at local state parks, in parking garages downtown and at the high school track and bleachers,” said Macey Clay, a seventh grade student at Randall Middle School. “We were ready and wanted to accomplish our goal that we had planned so long for.”
The three girls hiked with two of their troop leaders, Nicki Clay and Jenny Rhodes, and three parents. Their adventure began at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail located at Springer Mountain.
There, they were dropped off for their four-night, five-day journey, which involved hiking anywhere from five to nine and a half miles a day over mountains, across streams, and on and over giant rocks, all while carrying a backpack weighing close to 40 pounds.
Even though there were some difficult uphill spots, Brynlee Rhodes, a seventh grader at Burns Middle School, felt the last two miles of the trek were the hardest.
“It was all downhill stepping over rocks, but those two miles felt the longest,” she said. “We thought we were never going to get there!”
Rhodes, Troop 3541’s co-leader, stated there was quite the sense of accomplishment among the entire group as they saw the sign for Neels Gap, where they finished their hike.
“We were so excited to reach our goal,” she said.
The Cadette Girl Scouts earned their Primitive Camping badge, Night Owl badge, Trailblazing badge and Outdoor Leadership Journey badge. They also took notes on the amount of time they hiked each day, how far they went, interesting stopping points along the way, water locations, elevation changes and gear suggestions, which they will compile into a handbook for future troops.
“These girls truly are trailblazers, as a hike of this magnitude is a first from the scouts in our area,” said Nicki Clay, troop leader.
Maya Tedford, a Randall eighth grade student, agreed. “The trail showed me I am stronger than I thought and I can accomplish something in harsh conditions that a lot of people don’t think they can do.”
The Girl Scouts hope their experience will encourage others to follow in their footsteps.