Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why I'll Never Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail

I am just finished up my Kindle book, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, by David Miller (trail name AWOL). I am very familiar with my local sections of the AT here in south-central PA and all of MD, via my hiking and trail running.  But I have never set foot elsewhere on the AT along its 2,172 mile length as it winds its way through 13 (I think) states. 

Not that the notion of a thru-hike isn't appealing--some 1000 or so souls complete one every year. I love reading accounts of thru hikers and imagining how cool such a long trek would be. 

The obvious downside?  Freeing yourself up for the 5 months or so that a hike would take; being financially secure enough to afford it; planning and executing all the logistics.  Oh, and having the mental and physical fortitude to walk 2,172 miles in one long stretch.

Nope, all that stuff is doable for the determined.  What would be my undoing is the fact that all thru hikers are expected to assume an alias, a trail name by which they are known to the ATC and to each other on the trail.

I could not bring myself to do that.

See, I hate nicknames.  Always have.  I realize that there may be very good reasons for a person to assume or have conferred upon them a nickname, but that's not me.  I have, admittedly, an almost pathological aversion to even using a nickname for somebody else, much less having one of my own.  To me it's like, "Do I know you well enough to call you Crunchy instead of your real name, Craig?" 

So I'd have to go under my real name of Gary, to the consternation of all other thru hikers.  You just don't toy with time-honored traditions, so if I won't play the game, I'd just better not hike. 

See how easily I talked myself out of it?


  1. But you know you didn't really talk yourself out of it and you are still intrigued. Besides many people stick to their real names for the whole hike. It is an epic adventure, and will restore your faith in humanity, and you will collect some amazing stories along the way. :)

  2. Sorry for the delay in responding but Blogspot sw blocked me somehow. Think I've got it figured out now.

    Anyway, Yes, and yes. But in the real world I just can't see me absconding for 6 months and leaving my loved ones behind.

    Blog owner