About the AuthorAnn Wolf, known on the trail as Greeter Two, for her friendly greetings and suggestions, is a semi-retired, very busy and active senior. Greeter Two is a breast cancer survivor, class of 2016, who refuses to settle down, opting instead to pursue her love of hiking, running and backpacking with dreams set to complete more of the Appalachian Trail, stopping when it no longer is fun or feasible. Follow Ann on Instagram @annwolf123.

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Let me introduce myself. I am Greeter Two, a crazy, older section hiker and backpacker. Crazy because my efforts have led to many adventures and injuries.  I really should find a new hobby. Something safer, and easier, but it would certainly be boring, so crazy will have to do.
I developed a love for long hikes about 10 years ago. Then in April 2014, my hiking friends planned a backpack trip in the Pine Barrens, on the Batona, and invited me.  (The Batona is a 50+ trail in South Jersey, with its name derived from BAck TO NAture.)

My first trip and only trip with a chair (on the Batona, in Pine Barrens, April 2014)

At first, I resisted, thinking it was going to be a wild party until I learned that another friend (a dentist!) was going. I was “in”; after all, you have to trust a dentist, right? So I bought some new backpacking gear, including a sleeping bag, tiny tent and stove, and supplemented with used gear off of Craigslist. After all, why commit a major investment if I hated it? That first trip my pack weighted 35+ pounds, until I ditched 5 or more pounds when my dentist friend bailed the second day! My discovery about ultralight gear would come a year later…

A novice (Central PA on the AT, June 2014)

Fortunately, I survived to live the tale — 42 miles over 3 days, carrying a huge pack. I was totally hooked. Soon after I began going on group weekend backpack trips on the Appalachian Trail. This continued into 2015, and then in 2016, life happened. My dad became very ill and then passed away, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is my dad had a good life and suffered little, and for me, my cancer was an easy case. The great news is my love of the outdoors pushed me to get back on my feet as fast as possible. Three weeks after my last chemo treatment, I was back hiking long miles. Two weeks after radiation, I was back on the Appalachian Trail, hiking solo 14.5 miles, from Port Clinton to PA 183. The shuttle driver dropped me off, and I literally dragged my butt up the hill out of Port Clinton, wondering if I would make it to the top or not. Then one mile from my car, I had my first adventure, when it became dark, the trail blazes indicated a turn but not which way, and I was momentarily confused. Well, really, not so momentarily… Fortunately, I lived to tell the tale. Lesson #1, learned during prior trips, stop, look around, think, don’t panic. Still, due to the risk of finishing too late or early, I much prefer backpacking on the AT to day hiking. I also prefer blazes that indicate direction, not just turns.

Left: Hiking solo, December 2016, post chemo and radiation, my first hike back on the AT as a breast cancer survivor. Right: Tracking my AT map miles – from here to there. You can get the map here.

Later in early 2017, I shared a shuttle with a much faster backpacker. On day 2, hiking on my own, way behind her, I opted to check out the Tri-County viewpoint (where 3 counties in Pennsylvania can be viewed at once). Following the blue blazes, I quickly realized climbing MORE rocks to see the view was not going to be worth my effort, I turned around, only to get lost and then more lost, and then really lost…for 2 and a half hours, in the Pennsylvania woods. At one point, I saw white blotches on trees, almost like AT blazes but not quite. When I got closer, there were signs indicating no trespassing, or as my mind remembers it… stay out or you will be shot. Fortunately, I had plenty of gear and food, wasn’t in any danger, and never panicked. I found my way out, using my phone for navigation, coming out within feet of where I went in! Lesson #2 – get better navigation tools and take a class or two, which I did later that year (thank you to REI for their map and compass class, and Guthooks for its offline ability to show you the trail). Lesson #3 came later – don’t share my adventures with my stay-at-home, non-hiking husband, until I am home, safe and sound. It makes him crazy with worry.
So now, 750 miles after my first AT backpack trip and five years later, I am planning on one or more long distance backpack trips this year. Not sure which way I will go, north or south, having completed from Waynesboro, Virginia through Cheshire, Massachusetts, or exactly when, but I will be there. Until then, I pledged to hike every month on the AT, recently completing an overnight trip and later 2 days of winter hiking with friends, all in Pennsylvania, seeing trails for the second time, loving all of it.

What fun! An adult jungle gym in Shenandoah National Park on the AT