Thinking Things Through

It has been a sobering couple of days.

Several things happened yesterday.

  • My son of 45 years took his son of 11 years to the pediatric ED because son of 11 having had seizures the night before. (As of this morning, Wesley was back in school and Lanse and the rest of us are breathing. It’s the five of us in this one little house.) As any parent knows, when the kid is sick everything else moves to the back seat.
  • I wrote my first blog post for The Trek, for the first time actually talking about the possibility of a plan C. (Thru-hiking in 2021 was already plan B.)
  • I got the email from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy advising postponement or at least great caution and strongly encouraging that we register any planned hikes.
  • I registered my 2021 northbound (NOBO) thru-hike with a March 1 start date, knowing full well how unrealistic that date is likely to be. We’re all in wait-and-see mode now.

What I don’t know

  • I don’t know whether I will need to go to plan C., though it is looking more likely every day.
  • I don’t know what plan C might look like. Some possibilities are:
  • Start my NOBO on June 1 or thereabouts and see how far I can get before cold weather forces me off the trail. Finish in 2022. That would keep me celebrating my 71st birthday on June 16 on the AT. It would also get me out of the March NOBO bubble.
  • Delay my NOBO until March, 2022 and spend as much time as I can in 2021 on New York alternatives such as the Finger Lakes Trail, Northville Lake Placid Trail or the Erie Canal Trail. New York State has no shortage of beautiful places to hike.
  • Sit on my butt and mope. Not likely.

What I do know

  • I do know that one way or another this is going to happen.
  • I do know that even if it doesn’t happen and I never get to thru-hike the AT, I will still be an ok person.
  • I do know that I am not interested in putting myself or others in unreasonable danger. Get real, folks. Covid-19 is real and it is deadly. I treat Covid-19 in much the way I treat heights. I’m not exactly afraid of them, but I treat them with great respect. There’s no coming back if I go over that 500 foot cliff at Letchworth.
  • I do know that “no unreasonable danger” is not the same as “any danger”. Everything worthwhile in life involves risk. It’s all a matter of trade-offs.
  • I do know that writing openly about the uncertainty has taken a load off my shoulders. We will get through this, my friends. Together.

What you can expect from me

  • As time goes on I plan to post once a week. That way you don’t get spammed and I don’t have to come up with something worthwhile to say every day. I am posting more at the beginning as I sort things out.
  • I’m a photographer. You are going to get pictures. I use my cell phone for immediate documentation and film cameras for everything else. Shooting film mean there is a lag between shooting and posting of anything from a couple days to several weeks. Personally, I enjoy the mystery factor. I have not yet figured out the logistics of how I am going to make this happen when I am away from my darkroom and scanner. In the meantime expect photographs from my preparatory hikes around our county and state parks.
  • Commentary from the heart. I like to think and I like to write. I’m a Christian, a Protestant who loves hanging out with the monks of the Abbey of the Genesee (something else that has gone on pandemic-hold). I told a former Abbot that I was looking forward to my six months in the Abbey of the Appalachians. He said he was jealous of me.

Today’s photographs

  • One day in November I drove down from Rochester to Letchworth State Park and hiked from the “Tea Table” area up(!) to the Great Bend overlook and back. It was a chilly day with the bright afternoon sun low in the sky.
  • Argus C3 Brick with the 50mm lens (more about the camera in a later post)
    Ilford HP5 Plus / Kodak D19 1:2 5 1/2 minutes

Blessings,
Steve / pearwood
Soli Deo Gloria

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Comments 34

  • Avatar
    Fuzznut : Dec 2nd

    Black and white photos …AWSOME. A seemingly lost art. Cant wait to see more.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 2nd

      Thank you. I’ve been a computer geek for most of my 70 years. Manual cameras are my rebellion, sanity, and fun. 🙂

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Mandy : Dec 4th

        This is the first time I’ve read your,blog, and I must say, You are the man!!! Can’t wait to read more. Best of luck.

        Reply
      • Avatar
        Everette : Dec 5th

        Prayers for your grandson recovering quickly.
        Enjoy your posts.
        I plan to thru hike the AT at age 72. Watching your progress and rooting hard for a picture of you on Katahadin.

        Reply
        • Avatar
          pearwood : Dec 5th

          Thanks, Everette! Pictures there shall be!
          Steve

          Reply
  • Avatar
    dave beaty : Dec 2nd

    So much uncertainty.. the only thing of which I AM certain is that one way or another you WILL do this
    !

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 2nd

      Thanks, Dave.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Lynn : Dec 2nd

    Absolutely stunning photos! I, too, approach situations better after putting them on paper. Looking forward to future posts.
    Stay well!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 2nd

      Thanks, Lynn. Writing forces me to formulate my thoughts in a coherent fashion instead of just drifting. That camera is going with me on the AT.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Water93 : Dec 3rd

        Hit the trail on March 1. My start date 26 years ago. Left Pen Station and took Amtrack down to Gainesville Ga. Now I live 30 mins for the Gainesville Station. Cold and Wet with snow be prepared. If you need a ride let me know.
        Happy Hiking
        Walter 93

        Reply
        • Avatar
          pearwood : Dec 3rd

          Thanks, Walter. I flew Army helicopters out of Fort Richardson, Alaska, yea many decades ago. Cold weather scares me like the sea scares lifelong mariners. If you stop being scared of it, you’re dead.

          Reply
      • Avatar
        Water93 : Dec 3rd

        Hit the trail on March 1. My start date 26 years ago. Left Pen Station and took Amtrack down to Gainesville Ga. Now I live 30 mins for the Gainesville Station. Cold and Wet with snow be prepared. If you need a ride let me know.
        Happy Hiking
        Water93

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Rick : Dec 2nd

    I think your camera and Appalachia are going to do very well together.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 2nd

      Thanks, Rick. The Argus C3 does have its own magic.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Andrew Carter : Dec 2nd

    It’s impossible to know the Covid situation in March, but if you do want to begin your AT hike at that time, yet don’t want to deal with the NoBo mongrel horde, think about a flip-flop. That’s my current plan for a 2021 PCT thru hike. (I did the AT in 1977.) Actually, I’m planning a PCT flip-flop-flip. Like you, however, I do have back-up plans for alternate 2021 non-triple crown long distance hikes. Good luck. You got me by 7 years.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 2nd

      Thanks, Andrew. I’m considering a June 1 NOBO start for much the same reason. Being retired, I have the luxury of not having to have a firm finish-by date. I can see how far I get before the impending winter forces me off the trail.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Brib : Dec 2nd

    You don’t need the ATC’s permission to hike the trail. Get out there and hike!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 3rd

      Certainly true, but I take their expertise and experience most seriously. They know the trail better than any of us.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    John Shannon : Dec 3rd

    Pearwood—
    I understand perfectly about having Plans B and C. Since I was “called” to section-hike “all of it” (all of the AT), it seems every hike (21 to date) has changed in one way or another from my original plans. As also being a Protestant Christian, I understand this is God’s hike and He has the right to adapt it in any way He seems fit. I’m just along for the ride. I also use my phone to take a LOT of pictures and share them along with some thoughts from the trail on my Facebook page, Hiking One’s Boots Off—HOBO. May God bless you as find His plan for you! Currently, I’ve just finished up in the Blacksburg ,VA area of my hike. Maybe we will meet each other on the trail in 2021 at some point.

    HOBO

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 3rd

      Thanks, John, I appreciated that. I am leaning toward postponing to June 1, but there’s no rush.
      Steve

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Chad : Dec 3rd

    Vermont’s Long Trail is worth considering too! You could do the northern half in 2021, and you’ll bag the southern half when you do the AT.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 3rd

      Cool. Thanks.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Lavonna Skeans : Dec 3rd

    Hi,
    We started hiking the AT in 2017. Our plans were for a flip flop hike. Starting in Eastern Tennessee hiking to Maine. Then, doing the south leg in the fall. Missing the bubble and seeing the Smokies in Autumn. Issues at home, a passing away of a dear family member and a really bad fall ended our hopes.
    The only thing remaining is about 200 miles. I completed about 925. My injury forced me to be support for my partner after.
    I have no regrets! It was the experience of a lifetime!!!! Watching spring come up the mountains was amazing.
    My partner will be 71 in August. If you would be interested in joining up at Mt. Washington and finishing with him, we could time our finish then.
    He is retired Army.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 3rd

      Thanks, Lavonna. I’m two months older than your partner. 🙂
      Stay in touch. All plans are tentative these days.
      Blessings,
      Steve

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Lemon lyme : Dec 3rd

    Just go South! Start as late as you want!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 3rd

      I’m definitely not going to start at Katadin and Maine. I want to have miles of conditioning behind me before I attempt that! But, who knows. I’m leaning toward a June start NOBO.
      Blessings,
      Steve

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Loner girl : Dec 4th

    As a former Rochester girl myself, I will cheer you along !! And you are right, the experts are placing the recommendations for a very good reason and that’s because they do know the trail and the “mood” of the trail.
    I cant wait to see the photographs!! Hopefully you are using Kodak film!! You would make my father who is 91 proud as he is a 40 year veteran of the once great yellow and black…
    Stay safe my friend….

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 4th

      I shoot mostly Ilford HP5. It’s roughly equivalent to Kodak TriX, but not as pricey.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Rodney aka Beanpole : Dec 4th

    We’re located 1/2 way between Hot Springs,NC and Erwin, TN, near devil’s fork gap. Give me a holler via email when you’re close by and we can offer some hospitality, shuttle, etc. Big fan of b&w photography, it was my college major.
    Good luck w/ your adventures.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 4th

      Sweet. Thanks, Rodney. Stay in touch.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Robert Deming : Dec 5th

    I came across your post quite by accident. I have no plans to through hike the AT, but my next plan is to hike the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. A different kind of a hike, a pilgrimage, about 1200 miles. Like you, I’m ready for a mid-April departure – for London – and not sure if it will be possible. We have some other things in common, too. I flew an Air Force tanker in Alaska (1976) and did professional black and white photography ( in college).

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 5th

      So we would have been in Alaska at the same time. Elmendorf or Eilson?
      I had to look up Via Francigena. Sounds fascinating. I’m more familiar with the Via Santiago as some friends have walked it.
      Do stay in touch.
      Blessings on your way!
      Steve

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Sam Cermak : Dec 8th

    “I do know that one way or another this is going to happen.” – love this; I’m right there with you!

    I look forward to following your journey.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      pearwood : Dec 8th

      Thanks, Sam!

      Reply

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