UPDATE: According to Dave Blodgett at Lake Gaston Outfitters, interest and preregistration in the presentation has reached capacity. Stay tuned, Blodgett said that they might schedule a follow up event with Mumma, and that they have more events like this in the pipeline. 

The grueling climbs, shoe-shattering rocky trails, nagging mice scampering through her hair, Lake Gaston Outfitters presents, the adventures of Maddy Mumma and her experience thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, and stories from other long trails.

Mumma currently lives in Durham and is in her third year of law school at Duke University. Her family has a house on Lake Gaston, and she grew up spending summers and holidays on the lake. 

In the last weekend of February 2017, Mumma set out from Springer Mountain in Georgia to thru-hike the AT, which means she aimed to tackle the entire 2,189 mile trail at one go. 

She had until August to hike through 14 states and reach the northern terminus of the trail on the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine, armed only with a pack, tent, bed roll, trekking poles, and other light-weight backpacking supplies, along with enough food and water to get her a hundred miles or so up the trail.

She finished on June 11, in only 100 days, averaging about 25 miles a day, not counting the zero days. Taking a zero day means hiking zero miles and resting for a day. 

Before setting off on this adventure, Mumma had done a few shorter backpacking trips and spent a summer with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska, where she led campers age 15 and up on treks.

While at NOLS, she heard a lot and thought a lot about backpacking long tails all over the world. 

Mumma said that after she graduated from Duke, she was close to going into the Peace Corps, but was hesitant and unsure if that would be the best choice for her planned career.

“I always knew I was going to go to law school because of how the degree would set me up,” she said. “When I left for the AT, I hadn’t done anything to prepare for law school, and I knew it would just be really good timing. I had a year to do whatever I wanted.”

Mumma hiked with a few other thru-hikers for the first few weeks until they both got injured. Then she spent a week or two hiking alone, until she met up with a group of international hikers that were going at her pace. She stayed with them for about 500 miles until she met Spice Girl in Virginia. 

While thru hiking, backpackers pick up a trail name and use it like a handle when signing log books along the trail. Mumma’s trail name Princess Leia.

“I’m a big Star Wars fan, and Carrie Fisher had just died,” she said. “I talk about Star Wars all the time, and someone suggested (Princess Leia) in the first week of hiking.”

Mumma and Spice Girl hit it off, hiked at a similar pace, and both wanted to incorporate zero days. So they stuck together until Katahdin.

While on the trail, Mumma said her diet reverted back to all the things that were bad for her to eat growing up. It included a lot of Goldfish crackers, honey buns, and candy bars; she didn’t care for the pre-made care packages she instructed her mom to send to certain locations along the trail. To refill her supplies, Mumma would either walk to town or hope to catch a ride along the way. One lady who even handed her a twenty just to help her out.

Mumma’s journey through 14 states and up and down over 515,000 feet of elevation change was an adventure fueled by determination of personal success, and to prove a few people wrong. She went through several pairs of trail runners, a couple pairs of trekking poles, and picked up and packed out a wisdom that she carries with her through law school and across other long trails. 

To find out more about her journey on the Appalachian Trail, and to hear about her thru-hike on the 1200 mile Mountains to Sea trail through North Carolina, join her and the folks at Lake Gaston Outfitters on Saturday at 2401 Eaton Ferry Rd. Littleton, N.C.