• Blog,  Book,  Hiking,  Story

    It’s Not Farewell

    We pitch our tents at a picnic area, where we’re hoping we can’t be seen. I’m not sure if camping is allowed here, but I’m completely drained and cannot find the strength to hike any farther. A nonstop hike with the Honeymoon Hikers, led by the tireless Ratman, has left me thoroughly fatigued. I solo hiked 10 miles before I caught up with the couple earlier today on the trail. The last time I saw the Honeymoon Hikers was at Waynesboro a few days ago, where I took a zero. After my separation from Magic, I welcomed a solitary day in a small town, where I could unwind and recharge.…

  • Blog,  Book,  Hiking,  Story,  Travel Memoir

    Beware of Boy Scouts Bearing Gifts

    Voice of Reason, Babe, Shanti and I have made Eagles Nest Shelter in Pennsylvania our home for the night. As I walk over to join them for dinner at a picnic table set in front of the shelter, I hear a rapid knocking sound, like maracas or a güiro. For an instant, a flashback of my mother having a grown-up party with her musician friends playing salsa music late into the night. But, at this moment, as I look down, I quickly realize that it’s not a Latin American percussion instrument that I’m hearing. Nearly a foot away, I see a fat, black… “A rattlesnake!”  It may have been that…

  • Blog,  Book,  Hiking,  Story

    This Thing Called Trail Magic

    I’m at Harpers Ferry having lunch with Boots, Melody and Scholar. Scholar is a college student writing a paper on thru-hikers. She’s section hiking the AT while observing and questioning thru-hikers about their time on the trail. Knowing this, I (a conversationalist… ok, a chatterbox) am eager to drop some AT knowledge for our intrigued interviewer.  “I was at a shelter,” I begin, “and there was a thru-hiker perturbed about not receiving trail magic, as if all thru-hikers are entitled to acts of kindness. I was perplexed by her complaint; it’s hard to imagine a thru-hiker demanding a handout. These gifts are solely given from the heart, not ordered like…

  • Blog,  Book,  Hiking,  Story

    Hard to the Core

    Overdrive and I say our goodbyes to Peach, and promise to catch up with her when we return from Bob Peoples’ trail maintenance project called Hard Core. We urge her to come along, but she fears the work will expose her to a potential injury that may prevent her from completing her thru-hike. I understand and part of me is apprehensive as well, but I can’t resist a chance to be a part of repairing and building new trails on the AT. Plus, they’re looking for volunteer hikers, not experienced workers. How Hard Core can it be – right? On Friday morning Overdrive and I signed up at the Appalachian…

  • Book,  Hiking,  Story

    Kein Witz Auf Mich

    (No Joke On Me) “Burrrp!”  “You know, we don’t do that where I’m from,” says Halfway, with a fixed expression.  Although there are four other hikers at the shelter picnic table, she addresses her statement to me. “Oh, okay, but that wasn’t me,” I say slightly defensive. “But, why? Everyone burps,” I add. “We don’t do that. It’s not right, it’s rude,” she says. I can tell that the belch has wound her up fairly tight. Still, since she’s rarely in such a mood, I find it quite amusing. So, of course I prod on. Some may say that I’m aggravating the situation, but I prefer to think of it…

  • Blog,  Book,  Hiking,  Story

    Smokey the Driver

    I do not smoke cigarettes and I always try to keep my distance from those who are smoking. Yet, for some unexplained reason, no matter where I position myself, smoke always seems to work its way to my face, at which point I unwillingly inhale it into my lungs, which then causes me to feel a distinctly unpleasant pressure on my chest.  Now I realize that New York City doesn’t corner the market on fresh air, but it’s all I have. So, when I’m walking down the street and I find myself behind a smoker, it triggers a response in which I scurry past the poisonous clouds of offending smoke.…

  • Blog,  Book,  Hiking,  Story

    A Race Against Time

    It’s Sunday, 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I’m on an Amtrak train to Georgia. The arrival time to the Gainesville station is 7 o’clock tomorrow morning. It’s a 17-hour train ride that I ordinarily wouldn’t consider taking. A flight would have been faster, but not as convenient, due to carry-on restrictions against some of the gear I have; like my poles, a utility knife and alcohol fuel… which is definitely suspicious. Nonetheless, I’m on a train… and so my journey begins. Though, I did have quite a time this morning getting ready.  I set my alarm for 9 a.m., in hopes that this would give me enough time to ready my…

  • Blog,  Book,  Hiking,  Story

    A Brotherly Text

    My brother Carlos lives in Harlem, and like me, he has never explored the backcountry. He’s clueless about the Appalachian Trail and has exaggerated thoughts of what is needed to prepare for a long-distance hike, or am I being too carefree? Nonetheless, seven years separate the two of us and days before I leave, my kid brother is taking a parental approach at my pursuit for adventure by questioning my better judgment in the following text exchange: Carlos – Dude, when are you leaving again? Me – March 18 Carlos – What kind of survival gear did you get for your trip? Me – Everything; tent, sleeping bag, portable mini…