I have the utmost respect and admiration for those climbing Everest. Their physical ability and mental strength are on diffent scales to mine. Yet I cannot help to wonder, if you could time-machine 100 of them 50 years back, would even 5 of the 100 managed to summit without the use of all the modern day equipment and technologies they have access to.
The same thoughts apply to the AT. If we didnt have access to shuttles to get to town easily, and to hiker hostels or motels to shower, charge electronics and get laundry done, and an opportunity to load up on calories while in town, would we have managed, would we have enjoyed it?
Basically I am feeling guilty. The AT is “a walk through the wilderness” – surely we are suppose to stick to living on the trail? Yes going into town to buy food every few days is a must, it isnt possible to do it any other way (many locals have pre-packed boxes with their food mailed to towns close to the trail, it still means they have to go into town to pick up the boxes). But one can go into town, buy food for the next 3/4/5 days, rush back to the trail and live in the wild. Nothing or nobody forces one to stay in town, to have that restaurant meal, the cold coolie, the beer/glass of wine, the shower, the bed (even if its a bunk bed in a hikers hostel, it still isnt a tent in the woods).
Its these little luxuries (which make life on the trail so much more fun) that I feel guilty about. Am I thinking about it too puristically? Should I just embrace the fact that times have changed how the AT is being done nowadays? What hasnt changed is that one still has to walk every mile on the trail, up and down a mountain, then another, and another, and another…
I can think about it and feel guilty, but we are after all on a holiday here….and a holiday should be fun. True? Or shouldnt this be a holiday, should it be a route march?
Our “holiday plans” for the next few weeks are looking good. Tomorrow is a day without guilt trips. We are planning a hard 30km. Saturday we need to do 32, bacause there is this brewey (Devil’s Backbone) 5miles off the trail which shuttles hikers to the brewery (with restaurant), and allow them to camp in the grounds. We plan to go there for Saturday night. Sunday will be a full day’s walk to get us to Waynesboro early evening, where it is time for a zero day again on Monday (and where i will need to buy new shoes). From there we are going into the Shenindoah valley (no signal so cant check spelling) which is apparently extrodinary beautiful (cannot imagine that it can be more beautiful than what we have see so far, but we are told it is) with loads of restaurants easily accessible from the trail (feelings of guilt – go away!!)
By the way, for those interested in our weight: mine has been stable for 3 weeks, I weigh what I weighed towards middle of last year. Trevor on the other hand seems to be losing a kilogram a week. Reading about it before hand we saw that men has a problem while women manage to hold their weight much better. I’m trying my best to feed him well and fatten him up but the weight still drops. Not to say that he looks unhealthy, he looks slender, thats all. For now.
We seem to have caught up with a bubble of young hikers. After days of feeling almost as if we are alone on the trail, today the trail was like Germiston Station 😀. There are 8 tents at the camp site we are using tonight, All of them youngsters, Trevor and I are like mom&pop (found a spot on the outskirts so we don’t cramp their style, but hikers midnight is 9pm and I can hear the laughter has gone quiet, everybody has already crawled into their tent).
Home for tonight:
Ah not ONLY young people….last night in Glasgow we met Iron Man. He is from Birmingham and he is 79years old. He is slow, walks 13hours a day and seems to target 15miles (24km) a day max, but hey; isn’t that impressive? Like us he has a 10 year visa but can only stay 180days per visit, it seems unlikely that he will complete the hike in time to leave within that time frame. He is not worried. He says “What will they do with me – send me home? That’s no problem, home is where I would want to go when I am done”. 😀. Inspiring guy; just when I thought after this trip I will start acting my age he shows me the way!