Sunday, May 23, 2010

The A.T.

I've been listening to these books on tape lately about mountain men. Men who follow their Muse to the great mountains of Pakistan and Nepal. The first was Three Cups of Tea, which chronicles the life of Greg Mortenson. While attempting to summit K2 he came upon a village and fell in love with the people. They of course had no schools and the girls in particular were taught nothing. He told them he would build them a school and has committed the rest of his life to raising money and building schools all through out Pakistan. It is amazing the role he has had in educating people and doing more to attack the Taliban than any other single individual simply through abolishing ignorance. I then read John Krakauer's Into Thin Air which was an account of the 96' Everest expedition massacre. This of course had no moral lesson of committing your life to educate forgotten youth, it was a tale of the adventurer, which means who wants to be as close to the stars as they can be while on this Earth.
Needless to say I was day dreaming a lot. Fortunately, I have a great wife who let me go on a quick hike along the Appalachian Trail. The trail runs from Georgia all the way to Maine which is 2,175 miles. I hiked a small portion of this in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. My hike allowed me to come into contact with several hikers who began the AT in March which is a typical start date for those who wish to hike through. The first encounter I had with one of these alter egos was a man named Ten Fitty, an electrical engineer, who after receiving his Masters and putting in a year of work in the rat race, cashed out and bought a pack. Of course his name is not Ten Fitty but those who hike the trail no longer go by their real name. They create trail names, which they think of themselves or have placed upon them by their fellow hikers. Ten Fitty looked burned, bitten, grizzled, and calm. I picked his brain for quite awhile, trying to find out what it would be like to have even 2 months, where the only concern was walking to the next camp site, setting up a tent, and then figuring out which crappy dehydrated meal you wanted to devour. That's it. Those are the extent of your worries. It takes most hikers who complete the trek 6 months. Not that it is continual bliss and you wouldn't miss the comforts of home, but I couldn't imagine the emancipation from the daily grind. Actually, I could.
Luckily for me there are stronger pulls than Sagarmatha, K2, or the Appalachian Trail. There are my 4 Muse below 5'4" who make me whole. Some day when we send off the June bug to school Darla and I will have to take a six month hiatus along the AT.


If any of you would like to check on Ten Fitty's status his web site is


The Gilberts said...

Cool Geoff! I met people like that, backpacking across europe who had "cashed out". One guy from CANADA, an accountant, had been traveling a year on his savings... he never planned more than one destination stop at a time-- amazing. Just a back pack and enough means to get by.

Kami said...
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