White blazes, And The Lack There Of
If you’ve ever walked more than 100 yards on the Appalachian Trail, chances are good that you have seen the white blazes that guide hikers north/south along the way. They can appear on trees, rocks, stumps, wooden posts and so on. For thru hikers, this our guiding light. For me, they’re also my “security blanket”.
When I’m hiking and I realize I haven’t seen a blaze for a couple of hundred yards, I start to panic a little bit. It’s like when you were a kid and you’d lose your mom in the grocery store. You start running up and down the aisles thinking your mom left you, and you’re now destined to live the rest of your life in that store; that’s the feeling I get.
Now it’s usually fine. If you turn around you will generally see a white blaze marking the path from where you came, but this isn’t always the case. I am convinced that in the groups of people that maintain the trail there are some trolls. Let me explain.
There are some parts of the trail where it would be nearly impossible to get displaced. In these areas the trail is on a dirt section, and well defined from foot traffic. If you were bushwhacking and stumbled into one of these areas, you would know immediately that this was a frequently traveled foot path. Not only are those areas well worn, but they will also be littered with white blazes, with at least 5 within eye sight.
Then there are other sections of trail where its nothing but Buick sized rocks, and there is no definitive way to know if you’re actually on the trail or not, except for the guidance of the white blazes. BUT FOR SOME REASON, these are the areas that people like to paint the least amount of white blazes. You will sit there for 5 minutes, just baffled, because the blaze you’re looking for is 200 yards away, tucked behind some huge boulder. I really think they do this sort of thing just to fuck with us.
I have another qualm with the trail, but I’m going to save that for the next post, because I’m sure you have had enough of my bitching. Life is still great though!
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