Dream Trip: Hiking the Appalachian Trail

by Amy Azzarito


It’s the time of year when I have travel on the brain. If I’m not heading somewhere, I’m thinking about it. So we decided to spend the summer asking some of our favorite creative people to share the stories of their travel adventures. That way, even if you’re not traveling, you can be reading about it.

A couple of years ago, graphic designer and letterpress printer Macon York took a break from creating wedding invitations, stationery and cards to fulfill a dream that started when she was ten years old – to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. When she was fifteen, Macon hiked a 50-mile section of the trail with a summer camp program, which only further cemented her resolve, and she promised herself that she would hike the entire trail before she turned 30. Serious planning began when she turned 26; she read trail memoirs, attended an informative workshop, saved money and researched gear. Then on March 20, 2012, she began the trail with a good friend, but when an old knee injury flared up on the third day, the friend had to call it quits and Macon continued the long journey on her own.


She was completely alone for about a week and then met a fun group of guys and began immersing herself into the trail community. (She was even given a trail name – “Daystar” – for her constant commentary on her love of light: morning light, evening light and the way that the light would shine through the trees.) She would frequently hike solo during the day and then meet up with her friends at campsites in the evening. A little more than six months after beginning the trail, Macon finished on September 25 at age 27. (You can read the story of her adventure here.) –Amy

MaconYork_Portrait_ macon_york_travel_souvenirs

Design*Sponge: What was your most memorable moment?
Macon: “One mile ​​before ​the reaching the summit of Mt. Katahdin (the northern terminus), it struck me that I was about to successfully complete this epic journey. I reflected on all that I had endured on the 2,000+ mile hike across the country: intimately watching the seasons change, truly living outside for six months, realizing the perseverance and physical strength that I did not know I had, and cherishing the beautiful relationships I had formed. While I had countless memorable moments during the entire trek, the final mile stands out the most because of all it represented.”

Do you see the effect of this trip in your work?
“I see the effect of this trip more in the big picture of running a business. Starting a small creative business (without any business background) frequently feels like a wild adventure that requires strength, perseverance and endurance. Living in the woods for six months gave me the opportunity to feel more connected to the natural world than I ever had before. It clarified my own calling as an artist/maker and to be present, both in my work and in how I live. More specifically, I am continuing to cultivate my own style and bringing more hand-drawn, natural images into my work.”


Suggested For You


  • I love this! I just recently re-read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” about his trip on the AT. Congrats on fulfilling your childhood dream. Gorgeous photos!

  • Amazing! I just read “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and I’m really inspired by people who take these long journeys. It’s not for me, but it’s very interesting!

  • A family friend is in his 60s and is hiking the Appalachian Trail! We are so proud of him. That is so awesome that you’ve been able to do this. Everyone is just awesome.

  • I was just camping in Shenandoah National Park this week, and hiked a tiny section of the Appalachain Trail. I thought about how intense it would be to do the whole thing and live in nature like that, and then I see this post! Some people think that epic journeys (literal and figurative) start with an idea and nothing more, but they take serious planning, forethought, and determination also. It’s so cool to see an inspiring story like this!

  • I’m so glad you featured her and her experience here on Design Sponge! I thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico to Canada) and it has had a profound impact on how I perceive (and overcome) my own limits, and also how I define home.
    The AT has a northern section – from Maine up into Quebec – and I think that may be next on the list…

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    My trail name is Utah Sherpa and I had the pleasure of hiking with Macon for 500 miles. She was an inspiration to be with and always smiling and positive. She serounded herself with positive and motivated friends who I admired as well. I knew from the day I met her she would finish this adventure and go on to accomplish good things.

  • Very cool! My nephew hiked the entire AT in 2005. About a month into the hike, he met his future wife. They finished the hike together and were married in 2007 at a park along the trail.

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