Twelve years ago I bought a pair of hiking boots, a backpack and borrowed some hiking gear for a grand adventure along the Appalachian Trail. My friend, Jeb, and I were going to hike about 40 miles on the trail in something like four days. We didn’t get that far. We didn’t get close.
I remember spending one brutally cold night on the top of the mountain in October. I was living in Florida at the time and had not experienced cold weather in well over a year. I was also overweight and out of shape.
Here’s what I wrote for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune just one week before the odyssey began:
[The hiking trip] won’t be much like Florida. It won’t be much like civilization.
I still can’t articulate a good reason for doing this.
I’m not a camper.
I remember one family camping trip over spring break that was brutally cold. My older brother and younger sister spent the night on a boat with my father. I spent the night wrapped in a sleeping bag watching a small television with bad reception.
It was freezing. I wasn’t happy. I wanted to do anything but camp.
To this day, I can’t say why I agreed to that trip other than my 25-year-old brain thinking “Every now and again, it’s good to do something different.”
The hike was not fun. But it was motivational. I returned home and joined a gym.
Despite that history, there is still a romantic calling to the woods. And that may be why the video below appeals to me.
In my mind’s eye, hiking the trail should be just this easy:
I think Mt. Rogers is featured in the 1:10 to 1:20 second range of this video. But I can’t be confident. My memory of the hike has faded from the passage of a dozen years. Besides, Jeb and I quickly abandoned our hike and spent a couple of nights in Damascus.