I’m posting descriptions of my past favorite trip – the Appalachian Trail.
Bartlett would have a field day with the quotations on the AT. You hear many interesting things such as, “I am going to take it easy today and only hike 11 miles. Every year we go alligator hunting near the Everglades…. It tastes like rattlesnake. I’ll be down at the hiker bar. The rain seems much more benign when sitting in the shelter. Should I drain my blisters before or after dinner?”
I am 300+ miles into my trek and am now in Damascus VA. I am ahead of my excel schedule – mostly because I have joined a “trail family” that logs high miles (but also rests when the occasion demands). We sometimes refer to ourselves as PUD runners – PUD for pointless up and downs – a specialty of the AT. A trail family is a collection of individuals (a motley crew if you will) who camp at the same areas, plan distances together, hike together at times, and just help each other out. For instance, one friend hurt her hip yesterday, so I carried her tent. Trail families form organically – magically it seems. I just feel fortunate I am hiking with such kind, interesting, and thoughtful people.
At the core of the PUD runners are three hardcore women – all in their mid 20s. One is a snowboard instructor at Snowbird named Biphph. Another is a teacher from Las Vegas named Weeper. The third is wilderness instructor from Maine – Serendipity. These women do mad miles and make it look easy! I am huffing and puffing and trying to avoid blowing myself down. Two other members are Disco, a dotcommer/editor from SF who also biked across the US and Southpaw, a active outdoorsman from SC. The trail family grows and shrinks, but the three women form the nucleus.
I continue to find myself in interesting situations. – At a hostel in Erwin, I had a Martha Stewart moment. Eight hikers sat around a table and made denatured alcohol stoves with Coke cans and scissors. We had trouble selecting the appropriate matching doilies though.
– I wanted to watch Spiderman at a small local theater. It only showed films on the weekends, but I was there on a Monday. The proprietor was quite nice, and she said I could watch the film with 100 seventh graders who had a special screening. I returned at noon, paid $5 for my full priced ticket (definitely not a SF ticket), and was the only 7th grader with a beard. At times I can be quite mature for my age. I was also on my best behavior since anyone who threw anything in the theater would be go to Ms. Brown’s office immediately – no questions asked.
I think I will end this dispatch with some hard earned wisdom on how best to walk through a cowpatch. Remember the following:
– Watch your step! Those cowpatches are veritable minefields as cows must each lots of starch.
– Corollary to #1 – there is no such thing as fresh country air. It is a misnomer.
– When thru hikers see a calf or a colt, they may mistake the area for a petting zoo or act as if they have never seen livestock before. Do not make that mistake.
– When the baby calf whines, mother (usually a very large mother) will come charging over the hill. Get out of her way.
I think I will hike past Damascus and hitch a ride back on Thursday night for trail days.
I have tabled my screenplay writing for the moment – journals, hanging out, and resting my weary body are more important. I do read Shakespeare at times and just marvel at the language.