Restoring My Faith in Humanity, One State at a Time

I am slightly over a quarter of the way finished hiking the Appalachian Trail.

It has been just over 50 days.

I’m in my fourth state, and reaching the final days of my first pair of shoes. My knees and ankles hurt pretty much all the time. I’ve grown so much stronger it’s insane. My body is able to do things I did not think I would ever be able to do.

Some days, it’s hard to get out of my tent in the morning.

Either the physical or mental strain of the trail weighs down on you, and the thought of packing up camp and hiking 20 miles seems inconceivable. The demoralizing act of putting wet socks on my cold feet then into wet shoes is more than I can stomach some days. Other days, I have already hiked 15 miles by midday and I feel like I could go another 20. It’s a whole different world, and I am experiencing a new set of challenges and experiences every day. I freaking love it.

As a SOBO,

it’s a strange adjustment from the peaks of NH and Maine to the green tunnel in Vermont. It has forced me to shift perspectives; I appreciate the beauty in the trail itself rather than looking for my next big payoff.  It’s so easy to take picture after picture of the sweeping views that go along with climbing 4,000-foot mountains every other day.  As gorgeous as they are, though, they all eventually start to blend together. Some of my favorite moments have been the smaller things: the way that the sunlight dapples off the forest floor through a break in both the canopy and the morning fog. The tiny streams I cross every day, with their icy water and bitey bugs. Sometimes it’s just the feeling that a certain part of the trail gives me.

I enjoyed my time in Vermont, and while there were definitely plenty of mud patches, my feet managed to stay dry for the entire state. This, I hear, is something of a miracle.

Speaking of miracles…

I swear that with every step that I take, my faith in humanity is being restored. Out here, people treat people differently. People go out of their way to help you, for no other reason than that they genuinely want to do it.

Before I started my hike I joined a Facebook group of aspiring thru-hikers and through that I was introduced to a man who lives not too far from me named Robert Bird. He told me to get in touch with him before I got into Massachusetts, so I did. He takes in five to six hikers at a time, and juggles them for a week as he slackpacks people for 80 miles. This, my friends, is the true miracle. Everyone is on different schedules, and going different directions.  His drop-off and pick-up points go in total opposite directions, and he often has to drive the entire length of his range twice or more in a single day.  He wakes us up, feeds us breakfast, takes us where we need to go, picks us up, brings us back to HIS home where five or more stinky hikers get cleaned up. He takes us for good food, or wherever else we need to go, before letting us sleep in his home and starting it all over the next day. The man never gets a chance to relax it seems, but I also do not think he would have it any other way. As soon as one hiker is almost finished with their 80ish miles, he finds another one to bring in.

This. Is. Magic.

If he finds someone who is hurt or sick, they stay with him until he personally nurses them back to health. This man does this out of his home in TN, then comes up to Massachusetts through the busy hiker season here and rents a cabin to help hikers up north where he meets SOBOs, then goes back to TN to wait on them to get down south so he can help them again. I’ve been at his cabin for three nights now. It’s been a very welcome and much-needed break, getting to sleep in a real bed but still hiking my 20 miles a day, carrying only what I need for the day instead of my full pack. It is honestly the kindest thing a stranger has ever done for me, and I’m not alone in thinking that. Thank you, Rob. There is good out there in this world. A lot of it, and I’m walking right into the heart of it.

Affiliate Disclosure

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.

Comments 7

  • Kim : Aug 20th

    My thanks for Rob also. Love you son!

    Reply
    • theresa mccrary : Aug 21st

      As the Nana of Logan, Robert I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking him in and giving him a dry place to stay and good food. You helped him get some good miles in and lessen his load.

      Reply
  • Shocktop : Aug 21st

    Logan, you rock. And I promise you, when you get to VA, in a bit ha ha, I am here for you. You put in the work, we care for you. Rock on.

    Reply
    • Logan Roark : Aug 21st

      Looking forward to it!

      Reply
  • Beth : Aug 22nd

    Hi Logan, I was the girl who sat next to you on the plane into Boston in late June right before you were starting this adventure. I remember enjoying our conversation, and I made a mental note of your name when you pulled out your bus ticket. Anyway, I am so glad to read about your experiences thus far. I hope the weeks ahead continue to be meaningful and transformative ones for you. Sending you all of the best wishes!!!

    Reply
    • Logan Roark : Aug 24th

      Hey friend! That’s really awesome that you found me. That plane trip was the start of all of this, and your encouraging words meant a lot! Thank you Beth!

      Reply
  • Zebra : Aug 24th

    Hey Logan! We met at Shaw’s right after the Hundred Mile Wilderness, I was a flip flopper, but had to go home for injury. I’m so glad that you’re still out there kicking butt! You gave me one of the hemp bracelets that you had made, and I’m still wearing it. Keep it up, dude!

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Beth Cancel reply