An interesting Person and Why I’m Hiking
The First 3 Questions
As my departure date for my flip-flop thru-hike approaches, word has been getting out to more and more people. I’m somewhat hesitant to talk too much about it, knowing that only 25% of hikers will complete it, and many drop off in the first week. While my confidence is reasonably high, I don’t want expectations to be too high, at least until I have some time on the trail.
Nevertheless, the topic comes up and I seem to always be hit with the same 3 questions:
1.Who are you going with? Alone?? Yes, I’m hiking alone as I suspect most hikers are. Frankly, I don’t have one friend or family member that would have the slightest interest in joining. I expect to make many friends (a tramily?) along the way.
2. Are you bringing a gun? This is typically the first thought when learning that that I’ll be alone. My understanding is that the trail is very safe and no weapons will be required. I have a general aversion to guns, but even if I didn’t I can’t imagine it would be wise toting a gun between states.
3. What about bears? As long as certain precautions are followed, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will have an unfavorable incident with a bear on the AT. Unlike the more aggressive brown bears (and mountain lions) out west, we only have black bears in the east. Properly hanging food or using bear boxes prevents any unwanted curiosity. I hope I’m lucky enough to see one.
So why are you thru-hiking the AT?
Ah, that’s a very good question. The short answer I give is that I’m looking forward to the adventure and the challenge. But for the full answer, you need to know a bit more about me. I try to be an interesting person.
What makes a person interesting? Interesting people do things. They share what they know, what they’re curious about and what they worry about. They have interests and hobbies and causes and places and people they care about. They’ve got quirks and odd habits. Over time, I’ve taken on what I believe to be some interesting habits and hobbies. They give an introvert like me something to talk about at social functions.
Brewer – Long before the advent of the micro-brew, back when Budweiser and Miller reigned supreme, I stumbled upon a small shop that sold brewing supplies. It sounded interesting and, importantly, didn’t cost much to get started. I quickly learned that bringing a home-brew six-pack to any event became the number one topic of conversation. Wow! The sizzle has since worn off, but this began my search for quirky hobbies.
Moonshiner – I have a Depression-era still acquired from my dad. Once-a-year my friends gather in a cold garage to eat sausage and peppers and make moonshine from crappy homemade wine. What a great time. The moonshine has earned names including Butta (smooth like…) and Homemades.
Orchid Grower – My wife bought me an orchid when we began dating. That started a fascination that has grown to 100 orchids with grow lights in my basement. These aren’t what you find in the grocery store; I my collection includes cymbidiums, cattleyas, oncidiums and more.
Balloon Animal Twister – anybody with kids, nieces and nephews should take up this hobby. The best way to stop a crying kid is to give him a balloon animal.
Tree Farmer – 25 years ago I bought a 5-acre lot that had been used for grazing animals, and began planting hardwood trees on it. Today I have nearly 2000 trees, mostly black walnut and cherry, with some red oak and sugar maple mixed in. This is not for the faint of heart as it’s a constant struggle with hungry deer.
Beekeeper – I have a couple beehives in my backyard, which provide enough honey for friends and family.
Natural Fur Teddy Bears Architect – About 15 years ago while in a thrift store, I saw a teddy bear made from mink. At the time I had been trying to find an artistic outlet (one thing I’m really not – artistic), and thought I could do a better job than the one I saw. So, I bought a sewing machine, took a class to learn to use it, and bought a dozen books on making teddy bears. Using recycled coats, I’ve made some of the coolest teddy bears imaginable.
Bartender – Technically, not a bartender. Just for fun, I’ve recently obtained a bartending certificate after taking a class at the local community college.
(Backpacker) – This is where we are now. Once I hike the Appalachian Trail, imagine the stories I’ll have to talk about at the next party.
Thanks for listening. Next up – my shakeout hike.
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