The first few years into marriage is typically a time of learning everything there is to know about one’s significant other.
For newlyweds Logan and Morgan Greenhaw, the process was hurried along as they spent about six months side by side in a tent.
Seven months after saying “I do,” the couple began hiking the Appalachian Trail with their Siberian husky, Pneuma.
“A lot of people hike the trail for specific reasons such as raising awareness for a cause, to find themselves or figure out what it is they want to do with their lives, but that wasn’t our case. We just wanted to do it and figure it out as we went,” Logan Greenhaw said. “It is strange to think, we did that; it’s over and it happened.”
Morgan Greenhaw, 23, grew up in Flowery Branch and Logan, 24, grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. They met in Birmingham, Alabama. Morgan graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with degrees in art and psychology. Logan graduated from Samford University with degrees in religion and philosophy.
“I am a freelance artist developing my own style through the trail. I really enjoy pottery and oil painting,” Morgan Greenhaw said.
“I am wanting to go back to grad school to eventually get a Ph. D in philosophy so I can teach, write and help people,” Logan Greenhaw said.
But before they began their careers, the two traveled on foot, completing the Appalachian Trail.
“Growing up, we both have loved the outdoors. The start of the Appalachian Trail isn’t too far from here, and I have hiked parts of it a good bit. He actually did the whole Georgia section before we met,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “From the beginning we talked about the Appalachian Trail being a desire of both of ours. When we got engaged we started seriously talking about it, not really knowing why we were doing it, other than we both really wanted to.”
What began as talk “morphed into a honeymoon for us” after their June 2016 wedding.
“A goal of ours in being married is to always follow our dreams no matter how crazy they seem,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “It was an active step in proving to ourselves that we will be able to do that for the rest of our lives.”
The two set up a training regimen consisting of hiking with loaded backpacks on and adjusting their diet.
“We quickly found out there is no way to train until you are actually doing it,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “We would wake up really early, put our backpacks on and walk the hills of Birmingham to get our bodies used to having that weight on our backs. We tried to adjust our diet as well, eating the kinds of foods we would be eating and eating a lot less.”
Logan Greenhaw added that there is “no physical thing you can do to prepare other than backpacking 24/7.”
“We also had to prepare financially and mentally,” Logan Greenhaw said. “We both had jobs that we worked tirelessly on and made it a big goal of ours to save enough money that we needed so that we wouldn’t be broke by the end of it.”
The two were prepared for their journey with a spreadsheet of dates, times and where they planned to be. They began hiking in February.
“Within the first week we were off the schedule, nothing went as we had planned it to. We had to adjust our expectations,” Morgan Greenhaw said.
Though they saved, the Greenhaws said there were several unexpected expenses along the way, including their dog having a heat stroke, their mattresses popping leaving them to sleep on the ground several nights and a bear ripping their backpacks open.
“Something that is really cool about the trails are the people called ‘trail angels.’ They are people who do little things for hikers,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “We met a family out doing a section hike that drove us to a vet that ended up being closed, which was 45 minutes from where we were, so they drove us another hour to an emergency vet.”
Though they considered packing up and going home, their dog got better and they continued.
“A huge takeaway is that there are a lot of good people in the world still. Some of the ‘trail angels’ we met are some of the most incredible people,” Logan Greenhaw said. “There are tons of people that want to help you and take care of you, and it is really encouraging.”
The biggest take away after finishing the trail July 27, the Greenhaws said, is “learning how to live with a little.”
“It changes the way you see the world. We went five and half months living out of what we could carry on our backs. Even along the way we kept sending stuff home because we realized we didn’t need it,” Logan Greenhaw said. “Then you come back to a massive storage unit with three bedrooms worth of furniture and technologies, and you realize you don’t need all of it to be happy or experience life and joy.”
The two were not completely off the grid while hiking through, as they maintained an Instagram account and blog along the way.
“That became a huge source of encouragement for us, as well as an outlet that we were able to inspire people to get outside and live simplistic lives,” Morgan Greenhaw said, adding that they plan to write a book.
Their favorite section of the Appalachian Trail was White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire.
“All of it was awesome in its own way, but in New Hampshire and Maine the mountains are just so different from the rest of the trail,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “The tree line is a lot lower so you are getting amazing views with every mountain you summit, and there were a lot of ranges that stole our hearts as well.”
Morgan Greenhaw said hiking is about “getting to experience parts of America that people don’t take the time to experience.”
“You are in Georgia so you have some of the most and best kept trails,” Logan Greenhaw said. “We are only an hour away from where the Appalachian Trail is, but there are thousands of trails in North Georgia alone that you can make use of.”
Morgan said there are trails that range from easy to really hard, and that there is “something for everyone: mountains, waterfalls and rivers. There is so much to do and enjoy.”
“It is so rare for our culture to put your phone down and be outside ... look with your eyes and not your cellphone camera. There is a lot to be learned from even a 2-mile hike,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “America has a lot of land that is preserved that volunteers do a lot of work to keep up to be enjoyed, and we really feel passionate about educating people about that and about how to do it. It is important to appreciate what the world has to offer and not take it for granted.”
The Greenhaws suggest locals hike the Cherokee Bluffs, an easy 2-mile loop, or Blood Mountain in Dahlonega, a hard trail to climb.
“On a really clear day you can see the Atlanta skyline from the top of Blood Mountain, which is pretty incredible,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “It is a good one to do to understand the culture of the Appalachian Trail because there is a shelter at the top for through- or section-hikers to stay in; there is a privy at the top, and there is also an outfitter at the bottom that serves food. It is a great place to go to get great views, but to also meet new people and experience new culture.”
To learn more about the Greenhaws and their journey through the Appalachian Trail, visit www.trailmixfornewlyweds.com.
“During the Appalachian Trail we had decided we would never do something like that again, but now that we have been separated from it for a while, we miss it so much and we have started talking about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada on the West Coast,” Morgan Greenhaw said. “We will not go the rest of our lives without doing something like this again.”