Top Ten Funniest Things People Said as I Prepared to Hike the AT
From the Practical
10. “Your pack’s too back-heavy. Maybe you should carry some stuff on your front with one of our Baby Björns?” – Brother Joe
9. “Wait’ll you start stealing condiments.” – Mary Stewart Murphey, AT mentor, at the fast food place near Springer. Not stealing, per se— just taking a few extra ketchups/mustards to season the camp food.
8. “Make sure you can always self-extract, before someone has to extract you.” (“Self-extract?” I ask, thinking only of vanilla extract and extractions from the facial aesthetician). “As in, capably remove yourself from the trail if you get in trouble, before we have to remove you.” – AT ridge runner Nick
To the Tactical
7. “Can you get one of those surrogates to carry your pack? Or, what are they called—Sherpas?” – Dad
6. “Make sure not to wear any makeup.” – Mom, when I tell her women my age are not likely to be targets for stalkers on the trail.
5. “I brought you my sleeping bag! It’s 50 years old but it’s been through a lot out there.” – Man at my church, handing me his sleeping bag that looks like it did at least one tour in Vietnam
To the Personal
4. “Wait, don’t tell me you’re a smoker. Wearing that pack and Patagonia? You’re shattering every image I had of you as a healthy outdoorswoman!” – Delta airlines counter check-in guy, when I asked if I could bring a lighter in my carry-on. (As a fire-starter.)
3. “I heard you were having a midlife crisis.” – One of my 8th grade students at church.
2. “Not that we judge people by what they have, but it’s seldom we have to move a single person in a truck so big. What are you gonna do on the Appalachian Trail?” – Man who supervised my move, when I put all my stuff in storage.
1. “I’m great! I’m through hiking the Appalachian Trail.” – Cell phone voice-to-text function on my first day on the AT. I tried to say “thru-hiking,” but my iPhone autocorrect decided to call it quits for me 🤣
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