I am at Washington, DC, at the basement business office of a condo building located at a chic and busy street, punching these keys on borrowed time and place, trying to make sense, recapitulate, and, perhaps with some degree of success, articulate for myself and to you what had transpired in the last three months over a thousand miles across Appalachian mountains along the Eastern Seaboard of North America. A lot has happened, and much is happening. This will be a long one…
This isn’t easy. I really do not know where to begin. It isn’t just that I hadn’t kept up regular journals since my first three in the first weeks of the hike and the task before me is enormous. It isn’t as if there hasn’t been sufficient material to start writing some marvelous tales about bears and rattlesnakes, stark mountain balds, majestic overlooks and generous strangers along the way. There’s all of that and more, but there is something magical and at times ineffable about this whole experience. Despite myself I feel that I should yield to that tired adage: walk in my shoes, that’s the only way; if these boots could speak… But I am sitting here writing this, performing this long overture, mostly for myself. So let’s get on with it, after another false start.
I wrote last about my stop at Neels Gap, at the Mountain Crossings Hostel and Outfitter and a burly mountain man whose trail name is The Pirate. That was mile 31.7, my first real distance hike day–18 miles, no small accomplishment for someone who hasn’t hiked all that much with a full pack and only three days into his thru hike. I had recently turned 31, had myself white blazed birthday, surrounded by strangers singing wishing me happy birthday and sharing in my joy. I got lost in the Blood mountain fog and was rescued off a US 19 parking lot by the grandparents of a fellow thru hiker named Blue.
It has only been three months since, give or take a few days, and I am now at mile 1019, at the historic Harper’s Ferry, where I got off the trail to visit a friend in Washington, DC.
It’d be pointless and tiresome to attempt a chronology of the trek. The best and only alternative is to write, I feel, in blocks about particular experiences.