2001: A trail odyssey

Twenty days into my hike of the Appalachian Trail, here are some key numbers:


Dollars raised to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. To all of those generous people who have contributed, all I can say is, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”


Miles hiked. That’s an average of 9.4 miles a day.


Miles left to hike. I don’t know how director Stanley Kubrick felt back in the day, but 2001 seems like it’s light-years away for me. If I continue at my 9.4-mile pace, I should be done by 2020 — OK, I would really be done by March. Thankfully, however, the miles get much easier — easier, not easy — once I finish Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.


Times I have hitchhiked in my lifetime. The first was back in college when a dispute between two friends landed me and two others 30 miles from Bloomington on a dark country road. We were picked up by a scary dark van in the middle of the night after walking about five miles. The second time was today. I don’t recommend hitchhiking for those back in the real world, but when you are hiking the AT, it is common practice. Many towns are five or 10 miles off the trail. Today, I walked two miles before a kind soul named Mason and his dog, Balta, picked me up and saved me from walking the final three. When I got in the car, I found two northbound hikers Mason had helped before he found me. Mason and Balta, you dudes rock!


Percent of the people I have met on the trail and around it who are simply amazing. I cannot describe all of the generosity and smiles and uplifting conversations I have had with strangers in the woods. Here’s something I never thought I would say: The humans have been even better than the nature so far.


The age my knees felt after the Bigelow Mountains. The views were stunning, but my knees were not impressed.


Times I have seen moose. I could see them 3 million times, and it will never get old.

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