Approaching 80, Southington hiker plans latest Appalachian Trail journey

SOUTHINGTON — Each year, for a number of decades, Carol Langley has hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail. And this summer, as she closes in on a milestone birthday, Langley will be on the Appalachian Trail once again.

“I turn 80 in December,” the longtime Southington resident pointed out.

Langley credits her grandparents for her good genes and love of nature. She remembers going on all-day hikes with her grandfather, and recalls her grandmother working in the family vegetable garden in Wolcott well into her 90s.

“I am walking in their footsteps,” said Langley, who’s very first Appalachian Trail experience came way back in 1956.

“I was in junior high school and I went with my Girl Scout leader and we went to Bear Mountain and we slept on tarps,” she said. “I have been outdoors forever.”

The intrepid senior has scads of photos from past hiking adventures, including those on the Appalachian Trail.

She pulls one out from a trip to Northwest Camp, Bear Mountain in Salisbury from back in the 90s.

Since then, the “Silver Queen” — as she is known by many on the Appalachian Trail — has logged countless miles on the AT, from the southern reaches and into Vermont and Maine and all portions in-between.

Langley joined the Green Mountain Club in the early 80s and began to hike with a core group on a regular basis.

She also is happy to set off on her own, and has done so extensively. She’s not afraid.

Langley told her doctor, “I work like a dog all day and sleep like a bear at night.”

Aside from being an avid hiker, Langley, a great-grandmother, is active in her local land trust. Sheri Guarino, treasurer and director of the pollinator pathway for the Southington Land Trust, said Langley is “one tough lady.”

Guarino said Langley weeds the pollinator pathway along the Linear Trail, one time filling seven large bags. Langley led the land trust group on a hike for Trails Day earlier this year.

“She’s a very diligent, dedicated worker” Guarino said. “She is a very big asset to the land trust.”

Langley’s schedule generally takes her on the Appalachian Trail for day-hikes, often three days at a time. Fall is her favorite time of year for a jaunt. In the spring, there are a lot of thru hikers; generally young people who complete entire lengths of the AT, or very long distances, at a quick pace.

On one hike, some young thru hikers were making too much noise for the group trying to sleep inside the cabin. So Langley had a chat with the youngsters.

“You know what, boys? Calm things down,” she said. “Grandma needs her rest, otherwise you won’t like me in the morning.”

The guys heeded her warning.

Langley regularly leads groups for the Green Mountain Club. She tries to limit her parties to a half-dozen people and aims to complete six to eight miles; a comfortable pace. The goal is to enjoy the hike and have a safe experience.

Langley has completed the length of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and has 20 miles left in North Carolina. This season she wants to log about 90 miles on the AT. Her group will hike portions of Southwest Virginia, through Damascus, with a goal to finish at Dennis Cove in Tennessee.

A special moment Langley loves when hiking the Appalachian Trail in Virginia reminds her of her youth.

“You lay down at night in your tent and the whippoorwills sing and sing, and sing again in the morning,” she said. “It takes me back to my childhood in Wolcott. That’s what I remember: falling asleep to the whippoorwills singing.”


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