In 2001 I thru-hiked the Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine.
The trail was a teacher of sorts for me; simple and genuine, without pretention, honest and straight forward.
I wrote this post following the hiking experience in a sort of “stream of consciousness” process.
Branches with buds. Branches with leaves changing color and falling. Pine needles fall and sound like rain.
Made camp in the rain and so slept in a puddle. Hiked in the rain. Dodged thunder strikes.
Boiling Springs PA – I’ve been so hungry. I’ve eating too much. I ate wild berries in peak season. Ate apples that were sour and under ripe. I lost weight by way of course.
Walked over rocks. Walked between trees. Hitched into towns. Sick from bad water. Met amazingly kind and giving strangers. TRAIL MAGIC!!! Got invited to spend the night in a house instead of the “Y” where I was treated to home cooking and an indoor shower.
I’ve drank rain water. Took a bath in the rain. Bathed in a hotel. Swam in water holes. Did the back stoke in a summer swimming pool with a full beard and curious onlookers.
Learned how to Yogi.
Dove off water falls. Read and signed registers. Had things so good. So bad. Have done with. Did without. Kept going without. Didn’t wait to be happy. Many stary nights, cloudy and wet nights, very cold nights in Georgia. Georgia; with my sleeping bag zipped over my head and waking up to snow in Smokies. Cool spring like days in Smokies. Freezing rain in the Smokies.
Appreciated a good pizza. Appreciated a bad pizza. Days of thinking of everything and still days of seemingly nothing. Days of thinking of successes, failures, weaknesses. Thinking WOW I’m the luckiest man alive… The world going on a million miles an hour, I slowly hike on.
Sitting peacefully with a full stomach and good friends. Knowing peace. Knowing disappointment. Using every penny. Hiker boxes. Depending on myself. Alone. Depending on others. Hiking with people and without. Hiking naked on the summer solstice. Sharing a taste of food I made with a stove I constructed. Eating a “sleeve” of cookies for dessert. Waking up in my tent with the birds chirping outside while the sun rises. Bugs lighting the fields at a tent spot. Daddy long leggers taking over camp. Mosquitoes taking over. Knats taking over. Flies taking over. Bug spray. Useless. Slept in 3 walled shelters with mice running behind my head. Slept under the stars. Slept on a rock. Slept in a cow pasture. Slept on a bald mountain while the sun set, followed by the stars and moon showing up. The sun rising. Slept in hostels. Slept in the middle of a hundred mile wilderness. Night hiked by the moonlight. Ate a salad made from the wilderness. Fried wild mushrooms that I had second and third thoughts about eating. Slept soundly.
Received some “trail magic” when I wasn’t expecting it. Paid a dollar for all you can eat soup and baked goods in the Whites. Hiked Mt. Washington twice. Drank out of lakes, rivers, ponds, springs, and faucets. Grew my hair long. Grew a beard. Been dirty. Been clean. Worked for stay.
Saw bear and dear, squirrel, wild grouse, chip monks in the countless numbers. Drank too much beer at Rattle River Shelter. Watched Rocky 3 and 4 at a hostel. Hiked 8 miles in 2 hours with my 50 lb pack. Spent a lot of money in town. Ran out of money in town. Passed by many towns because I didn’t have money to spend. Worked in towns along the way for a day or two for meals and a little bit of spending money.
Fell behind friends on the trail. Caught up with those friends. Saw people get off the trail and then back on again. Saw some leave and not return. Met “flip floppers.” Walked over a road every mile in the Shenandoah’s. Hiked the first half of the trail in four months. Hiked the second in two months. Fell many times, mostly in New England. Forded rivers.
In 6 months and two days I past by many white blazes. I walked many miles. I climbed Katahdin.