Encountering Change: Friend or Foe?
One thing the Appalachian Trail hasn’t changed for me is my stubborn inability to grasp certain fundamental concepts. For instance-change management. The notion of perpetual control over unpredictability-in other, words the stuff that makes life worth living-has become a cottage industry in human resource circles.
The basic question I have is, why? One month into trail life and there is one thing of which I am certain-no matter how much you have planned and organized, no matter what GutHook’s or whatever guiding app you have chosen to rely upon might tell you, you are going to get stuck in some situation when it is going to be between your resourcefulness, reliance on, and trust in your fellow hikers and, mostly, on the mercy of the good Lord to keep you warm and safe and dry.
On the outskirts of Franklin, N.C., during my third week of hiking, I approached the Rock Gap Shelter and, after surveying the precariously pitched privy, the root-laced ground where I would need to pitch my tent, and the dwindling contents of my dinner bag, I made the momentous decision to walk down the mountain to an unidentified roadway below and said a quick prayer that it was indeed the “Old U.S. 64” referenced in my guidebook, that it would indeed lead to Standing Indian Campground with hot showers also listed in the book, and that I was headed in the right direction to get there. My confidence wasn’t helped when one of my fellow hikers who heard my plan said incredulously, “You are going to hike on that road?”
After walking about 20 minutes, being passed by a couple of suspect pickups and beginning to imagine the strains of banjo music coming from the woods, I said another prayer, rounded a corner and saw a sign for Standing Indian Campground. I walked in at 4:45 p.m. (the office closed at 5) secured a tent site and a bag of potato chips, proceeded to charge my dead phone at the single hidden outlet outside the office the proprietor sympathetically pointed out to me, and was promptly invited over for burgers by my new next-door neighbors. It turns out that Larry, an RN about my age, has always wanted to hike the trail and he and his wife, Jan, were not only in the habit of helping hikers, they were actually interested in day-to-day details.
My trip planner did not include that little respite and if I had stuck to an itinerary I never would have met Larry, Jan, and their little dog, Jet.
As I sit in a comfortable room at Fontana Village for the third day waiting for storms to finally pass through the Smokies so I can safely continue my trek, I say bring on change (to a degree.) And hopefully continue to douse my need to manage it.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.