Hiker heroes, Hiking

There are some characters out here

Very few hikers are able to complete the entire Appalachian Trail. I knew this going in, but I’ve also discovered that the successful ones usually have some unique gift to rely on. Whether it’s an unshakeable faith in a higher power, a cause that attention needs to be drawn to, or a very weak connection with reality that allows one to dismiss the miserable moments as fantasy, these attributes (among others) allow hikers to enjoy and endure 6 months of playing in the woods. After more than 40 days of hiking, I’ve come to rely on my special brand of crazy to carry me through the not-so-sunshiny days. And it seems to be working.

I’m not alone. In fact, this is the most “crowded” year the AT has ever seen (I’m pretty sure its not entirely due to my irresistible magnetism). I’ve eaten and slept with dozens of different hikers. We have shockingly different backgrounds and personalities, but as we come together around the shelters each night, a little bit skinnier, a little bit hairier, and a lot a bit hungrier, those differences become the flavor that makes conversation so much more delicious.

These are just a few of the recurring faces I’ve met thus far. I’m still getting to know each of them, so I’ll limit descriptions to a few details. I wonder which ones will make it all the way…

 

image

From left to right: Clutch, TheMan, and Hollywood. Each are firm believers in the “if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing” mantra, and I am continually surprised to see this unstoppable trio smiling, and smoking, and hiking.

 

Lumberjack

Lumberjack. We’ll be talking about him quite a bit more in future posts. He falls squarely into the “really good guy” category.

 

DEETS

DEETS. I sure hope we are able to spend more time together. Thus far, we cross paths near towns, but our hiking speeds are still very different.

 

Skittles

Skittles. I made the mistake of thinking that a 4’6″ 23-year-old with vibrant multi-hued hair was on the AT to play around. I’m beginning to learn that her path through life has been anything but carefree and easy. I’m looking forward to spending more time with Skittles further down the Trail.

 

Cliff bar

Cliff bar has been alive for 71 years, but I think his insatiable curiousity keeps him far younger. He is hiking 250 mile sections of the AT this year and we were able to spend a lot of time together during his “section” hike.

 

Bloodman

Bloodman. He took this trail name because his son calls him blood to underscore the importance of family. Sometimes crotchety, always energetic, this Maine native is heading back home. I can already tell…he’s going to make it back home to his family.

3 Comments

  • Reply Monica June 6, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Good luck to everyone in finding what you hope and seek for ! It feels great to follow all these amazing stories and wonderful people ! Enjoy the beautiful sides and fun experiences ! Happy hike !

    • Reply Gabriel June 18, 2016 at 4:15 am

      Thanks Love! This has become such a rewarding experience and I love sharing it with you. It also makes me happy to know that you’re taking advantage of your Gabe-free time to enjoy some of your own journeys!

  • Reply Vicky August 28, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    My husband, Bloodman, made it home to Maine Friday, August 26 (127 days from April 23rd). Great seeing this picture of him. Thank-you for sharing your journal. You shared your blog site with his niece’s boyfriend at the airport. Safe travels!

  • Now it's your turn to play!

    %d bloggers like this: