When Karly Jones began the Appalachian Trail on Feb. 27, the weather was cold and the trail crowded. She quickly earned the trail name Jitter, short for jitterbug.
“I was constantly moving to try to stay warm, so I would hop from one foot to another and rub my hands together or jump around, or anything to keep warm,” she said.
As February turned into March, Jones climbed Springer Mountain, traversed Neels Gap and then Dicks Creek Gap, summited Standing Indian Mountain and made her way through the challenging terrain of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. That’s when she first heard about COVID-19, from a group of pre-med students who had just been notified that their classes would be canceled for the next two weeks. By the time she reached Hot Springs, the world had changed.
“That was when a lot of people were making decisions and plans to go home,” she said. “I significantly noticed it.”
A widely circulated drone photo showing Max Patch covered with more than 100 tents — along with pictures of large amounts of trash left by the campers — has gone viral over the past week, leading many to question what should be done to keep the iconic location from being loved to death.