The Long Road to the Long Trail
“There’s a cheeseburger stand at the top!”
I remember my brother shouting back to me as we trudged up the Mist Trail, I was already dreaming about when this would be over. Little did I know how much more hiking lay ahead of me. Half Dome was one of my first hikes. That sounds braggy, but you wouldn’t think so if you were there with me. The only thing that kept me going was this thought of having one of those world-famous cheeseburgers on top of Half Dome. I didn’t know what I was getting into. If I had, I don’t know if I would have done it. Some things are like that. Hiking, for me, has certainly been one of them.
The Long Trail
Now, as I cram my child-size Z-pack into a cardboard box, I wonder what kind of food there will be along the Long Trail. I’ve never been to Vermont and I’m excited to stop in at all the towns along the way. Sometimes I wonder if I like that more than the actual hiking or if they just go hand in hand, making the other one more enjoyable.
Never did get that Cheeseburger
I’m sorry to tell you that I never got that cheeseburger on top of Half Dome. And I wish I could tell you I was a good sport about it. I was sorely disappointed. But, as we were chased down from Half Dome by lightning, I couldn’t help but laugh. The way down was not as arduous as the way up, but still, enough to make you want to puke. By the time I made it to my bed inside of that canvas tent, something had happened.
I won’t lie
It wasn’t so dramatic as, I was a different person, no. I won’t lie to you. But something had definitely changed. I don’t know if it was the simplicity of it–one foot in front of the other and try not to get struck by lightning–or if it was, the old, seeing something through to the end! Or maybe, those times when I did look up from my feet, it was just startlingly beautiful.
Whatever it was, I haven’t been able to stop hiking since then. I’ve gotten to meet some of the most fascinating people and see things that you only see on computer backgrounds. The thing that I look forward to most though, is the cheeseburger I’ll eat whenever I get to town.
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Wish I’d done it when I was younger. I’m an avid day hiker and occasional backpacker, but that seems like a lot of climbing now…
I started section hiking the Long Trail back in 1972 with my good friend Henry. At the completion of each hike we always rewarded our selves with a cheeseburger at Dot’s in Willmington.