Pretrail Events- Getting Ready
Mom, Dad and I spent much time together getting me down to Georgia, to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Mom took a week off work and we took a long road trip. I loved it. We spent many hours admiring the mountain views and green pastures before us, especially as we worked our way further south. Mom and Dad decided to try on my pack when I bemoaned getting rid of weight. Mom tried it on and almost fell down. She said, “We have to get rid of more. That’s just too heavy”. Dad hoisted it on, stumbled, and said, “For pity’s sakes, what could you possibly have in there?” (Just kidding, they were both steady on their feet). A lot of it was food. But we went through every item that night. I think we lightened the load by a couple pounds. Everyone was happier.
Mom and Dad dropped me at the Appalachian Trail Institute in Tennessee, a five day class taught by Warren Doyle- a man who has hiked the trail many, many times. Also Warren Doyle, man of strong counter cultural opinions, both fascinating and agitating. I learned many things there. Warren feels very strongly about resisting consumer culture and the seduction of brand name adventure gear. I appreciated this advocacy for less wasteful spending. Also a refreshing view for me to hear after months spent deliberating over gear details, pros and cons. I had often felt overwhelmed during the gear hunt, and the countless discussions over small gear details. Unfortunately, this perspective came too late for me this time, as I had already purchased my gear prior to class. Maybe next time I will feel more confident about considering some cheaper alternatives!
Warren also feels strongly about recognizing fear and how fear can irrationally guide decisions. He is not afraid to sleep under the stars at night. Though I find that idea enticing, I am afraid to sleep under the stars. I sleep under my nylon tent “roof”. At least for now. Maybe this will change in the next few months.
It was a challenging, interesting, and thought provoking class. Left me with some things to ponder on the trail. We hiked most of the afternoons- diagnostic hikes, Warren called them. The fresh air and exhilarating feeling of preparing for a future AT hike did us all good. We also reviewed a data book with Warren giving us tips on swim spots, difficult sections and “safety zones” along the trail.
I was happy to see Mom and Dad again when they picked me up. We had a lot to talk about. They had been camping in the rough with few amenities, and imagining what a thru hike would be like for me! We made our way down to Springer, where the three of us climbed to the summit. Mom took pictures. We all smiled even though there was a lot going on in our heads right then. Mom wanted final pictures before I took off, so Dad took the camera and took pictures of me crying. That rascal! Ah well. With that I was off!
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