Last weekend my Dad and I went on a three day, two night hiking trip on the Appalachian trail. A real one. The whole no showers, the paste-like power bar dinners, water from the stream kind of trip.
Cause ya know, I'm the whole tree-hugging, technology-shunning, who-needs-civilization kind of girl.And even so, the phrase, "We're not real hikers" came out of my Dad's mouth at one point, because we met hikers who are doing the trail in one go, from Georgia to Maine in a few months. They do take breaks visiting friends and eating in restaurants and what not, but during that time they mostly, as one girl said "walk and eat and sleep."
Many of them get to know each other, asking "Have you met so-and so?" and " How long have you been out?" They have trail names (like Panda Bear and Peter Pan and Red Flag) and trail lingo (Sobo and pack-slacking and purists) and inside trail jokes (hiker smells and the creepy old men). It's like a dirty, smelly exclusive club. With some of the strictest entrance requirements I've ever seen.
How do they afford four or five months in which they make nothing and spend money on expensive hiking gear and occasional restaurants and hotels?
I don't know. The one guy said some people are retired, some just out of school, some on disability. (I know, right? Anyone on disability who can hike for four months...my tax dollars at work.)
But anyway, our three days was a pretty good first trip for me. I saw some great countryside views, I walked in the rain, I made my ankles sore jumping over rocks. I spent time with my Dad and we sang such hiking classics as "The ants go marching," "John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt," and "I know an old lady who swallowed a fly."
It was a good time.
But tip to myself for next time: bring a sleeping mat.