Monday, August 20, 2007

Thru-hiking Well Described

There's a long, descriptive article about thru-hiking in the Miami Herald of 19 August 2007, written by Kerri Westenberg and headlined "Spotlight: Hiking the Appalachian Trail; The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, and every year, more than 1,000 people go for the entire walk." (Westenberg does make clear that there aren't 1,000 people who complete a thru-hike each year.)

She writes well. For example, describing the kinds of people who hike:
"Some of these through-hikers wear boots scruffy from years of wear. Others come with gleaming new equipment they barely know how to use. They are accountants, mail carriers, schoolteachers, retirees, recent college grads. But in the woods, where most take on trail names, they leave those old labels behind.

"They come to strip life to the basics: up at sunrise, down at dusk, eat food, drink water. They come for the contemplative act of putting one foot in front of the other -- again and again and again and again -- following the white blazes painted onto trees and rocks that mark the Appalachian Trail. They come for the joy of exerting their muscles, meeting other hikers, merging with nature. Primarily, they come to see if they're up to the task."
You can tell this isn't your usual article about thru-hikers. There are bits about the history of the Trail, the lingo, and trail magic, too. And stories from a few of this year's hikers: "Old School," "Dinosaur," and "Balance and Peace."