Appalachian Trail conquered

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Kuhlmann prepped for 2,000-mile trek at 'perfect off-street gym'

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(The following is an interview with Karen Kuhlmann by members of the Friends of Fredericksburg Nature Center.)

 

Where do you train for the Appalachian Trail (“AT”), 2,200 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.”

Kuhlmann began her AT hike on March 21, and finished on Aug. 19, but the training began nine months earlier.

Almost daily, Kuhlmann 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 said.

Occasionally, she drove 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.

Kuhlmann became something of a celebrity at Lady Bird, the talk of the snowbirds camped nearby.

At first, she laughed that 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 12 and 20 miles per day, and wore out five pair 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.

She said her feet are still sore.

Kuhlmann 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, but “slower.”