I’m posting descriptions of my past favorite trip – the Appalachian Trail.
I am now in Hot Springs, NC – about 11 days and 135 miles into my trek. I just finished hiking through the Smokies. It is truly amazing!
I learned that my first 29 miles was the toughest section in the South. I did fine, but I felt better when folks around me looked as tired as I felt. Each day I get a little stronger, and my pack gets a little bit lighter.
Hiking long distances is a bit like going back in time without going 88 mph or using a flux capacitor. In fact I move significantly slower than 88 mph – closer to 2-3 mph. I am buffeted by the elements and my perspective is simplified. I can better relate to myths of the past. I now know how Sisyphus (sp) felt how he had to carry his load up the hill only to go down the other side and start again. I think my body through an evolution of sorts. I started out with legs of tin – now I think my legs are in the bronze age. By the end, I think I will have legs of steel and hobbit feet!
I have established a hiking routine. It is a bit like Groundhog Day in that each day resembles the next. But it only goes from good to better. I wake up around 7:00 – around sunrise. I retrieve my bear bag, fix some breakfast, brush my teeth, and hit the trail. I snack along with the trail – with candy bars, crackers, etc. Then I roll into camp or a shelter aroudn 4:00. I cook dinner, plan my iternary for the next day, and go to sleep.
Folks on the trail have “the hunger.” I do not feel especially hungry, but I can eat a lot! There is a whole trail lexicon. Trail Angels perform Trail Magic – often surrounding food or rides. At one shelter in the Smokies, some folks gave me a huge bag of Dorritos – they were the best chips I’ve tasted in a long time.
I experienced Trail Magic writ large two days ago. A group call itself Hobo Central set up three large tents and cooked food for all the passing hikers. The organizers looked like a motorcycle gang transported into the woods – with full beards, bellies, and plenty of square dancing.
They cooked steaks, salmon, salads, sweet potatoes, etc. for dinner. I just had to stay for dinner,
breakfast, and lunch. Pleasant surprises are the nicest ones. I met some folks famous in trail
circles. Baltimore Jack was hiking his 8th thru hike in a row. However, he looked more comfortable picking up a bottle than a backpack. I met Papa who was the oldest thru hiker at age 84. I was telling him about a still I encountered in KY, and he said, “let me show you the real mccoy.” He brought me to the back of his truck, and gave my some real sipping whiskey. I think it was about 130 proof and seemed quite lethal.
In several weeks I will attend Trail Days in Damascus, VA. It seems to be a hiker Burning Fest or Woodstock. In my next email, a week or two from now, I will describe trail culture, my trail name, and some AT Profiles in Courage. Note, I will not have my Profiles in Courage ghost written.
Forgive the typos as I am a public email terminal w/o too much time to spare. Hope all is well, and I am just doing great, having fun, and meeting folks from all walks of life. Until next time.