I’m posting descriptions of my past favorite trip – the Appalachian Trail.
To conclude my trip, I flew 1500 miles from Baltimore to Colorado in about 3 hours. It would have taken me over 75 days to walk that same distance. I am gradually adjusting to “real life” although I prefer dried hiker food to airline cuisine.
I savored hiking the last 50 miles into Harpers Ferry. I passed many historic sites, drank gin and tonic with my trail family, and visited Washington, D.C. My friend Becca (thank you!) was kind enough to pick me up and deposit me at the airport.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is the half way point (over 1000 miles from the start) of the trail and the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Council. Visiting the ATC headquarters has become a hiker ritual. Hikers get their picture taken for posterity, weigh themselves, and write in the register. I lost 23 pounds which is about 10 more than I would like. I look forward to putting those pounds back on. One friend named Mongo, a systems guy and New Zealand rugby player, dropped 55 pounds to 230 lbs. This is more effective than the Subway diet. The ATC also counts the number of Thru-hikers each year. I was thru hiker #393 which is low for this time in the season. Significantly fewer folks are hiking this
year. Sept 11 and the economy continue to log their tolls (somewhere other than my portfolio). However, the ratio of women to men is higher this year with women forming about 20% of hikers.
I took a train from Harpers Ferry into Washington, D.C.. It was odd to see people in business clothes hurrying to work. Plus, many folks wear khakis with pleats in D.C. It is a different world albeit a small one. I bumped into my friend Halim from San Francisco at Union Station. I was a bit shaggy at the time, and he informed me that I did not smell like trash. His girlfriend did not immediately recognize me, and just seemed to stare in shock/disbelief at my hiker persona.
I have legs of steel and an experience of a lifetime. I appreciate simple pleasures more and do a better job of ignoring the distractions (like television) that clutter folks’ lives.
I hiked the trail as a “goal oriented recreationalist” for the following reasons that I happily realized:
1. Appreciate the contrast that the outdoors offers
2. Realize a goal
3. Meet great people
4. Learn more about myself and those around me
5. Have fun!
Attached are three pictures: 1. a close-up near the end of the trip, 2. feeding some wild ponies at Mt. Rogers NRA, VA, 3. stretching my legs over an overlook. When I create my website with more pictures, I will send the link.
I am emerging from my splendid isolation with this email as I have not contacted anyone since I returned. I can identify with a deep sea diver. The bottom of the ocean is a world unto itself. If one surfaces too quickly one catches the bends or in this case, the “Peace Corp Syndrome.” Fortunately or unfortunately, I was only gone two months so my case is manageable.
I am now in Colorado preparing for my next big adventure, Wharton. I spend most mornings hiking for a couple of hours before I start my day. That makes me feel sane. I no longer look at foods and immediately select the item with the highest calories count. I am reading a lot, watching films, and just enjoying spending time with my family.
I was transformed from the Wildman of Borneo to something more civilized when I had my beard trimmed. I felt a bit like Sampson with my shearing although it is comforting to be reminded that I do have a chin. Fortunately, whatever superhuman powers I possessed quickly returned to me.
I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien, “Around the corner there may wait a new road or a secret gate.”
I look forward to seeing what Wharton holds and what next adventures I will undertake. Thank you for all of your kind responses and support!