FAIRFIELD, Conn. — It took nearly three months, but Fairfield's Kristen Geary celebrated as she found herself back in Connecticut on Wednesday after hiking 1,456 miles on the Appalachian Trail.
Only 725 miles to go.
"Hiking the Appalachian Trail is hard work, harder than any job I will ever have, but there is nothing else I would rather be doing," Geary, who left from Georgia on Feb. 25, said via email.
"I have seen amazing things, met so many wonderful people, and become a stronger person each day," said Geary, who moved to Fairfield in October 2015 for an internship in the Global Patent Operation at General Electric.
How did she prepare for the 2,181 miles on the Appalachian Trail?
First, Geary ran two marathons last fall.
"I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful running group in Fairfield, and it was great having them to train with all through the winter," she said. "During the first few weeks on the trail, I could tell all the running paid off."
Geary, who turned 24 in March on the trail, said she walks 15 to 25 miles a day. The goal is to reach the end of the trail in Maine by mid-July.
"After about 300 miles, I could feel my body getting stronger. The uphills got easier, I got used to always having a 30-pound backpack on, and I became comfortable hiking over 20 miles a day," she said.
But what's the worst part of the hike? The weather. Some early nights were below 10 degrees, and recently Geary hiked in 90-degree heat two days in a row.
What's the best part? "The feeling of constant progression and the sense of accomplishment at all the little milestones," she said.
Geary says she recharges by stopping in towns along the way, which is "a big boost to morale."
"After a few days in the woods, a hot shower and a burger lift my spirits and help me re-set a little before going back to the trail," she said.
Geary has "always been outdoorsy" and adventurous, and remembers camping and hiking as a kid. In high school, she backpacked in the Adirondacks and even biked from Savannah, Ga., to Los Angeles.
Geary, who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Denison University, is ready for her next challenge: She starts law school at the University of Denver in August.