I’ve now read Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, once and watched the movie three times. I’m ready to begin my own adventure. I fear if I watch it one more time I’m talk myself out of going. As a line in the movie goes: Why hike it? You can see the whole A.T. in 4 minutes on the internet.
I’m not sure that keeping up with the adventures of others is a good idea. Many of the adventures are not that pleasant. But honestly, whenever I mention it to friends and family I get the same reaction that Bryson got – upraised eyebrows and concerns about my sanity. The only place I find any sympathy or understanding is from other A.T. wannabes. Not quite true. I’m encouraged to follow my dreams, sometimes cautiously (Are you sure that’s a good idea?), other times with modest enthusiasm and a kind of if-you-plan-it-maybe-I’ll-come-along-for-a-week response. I need to buy the book about Grandma Gatewood to continue to inspire me when I weaken.
After all, the A.T. is unlike any trail in the world. It’s its own beast, its own brand of Americana insanity. I’ve heard it described as a moving city that’s 2,200 miles long and 6 feet wide, with a population of about 3 million supported by all that they need to survive their ordeals: grocery stores, hostels, hotels, shuttle services, medical facilities and outdoor gear shops, to name just a few.
I’ve just arrived in northern Texas from my home in western Colorado. While not exactly like the climate of the southern 1000 miles of the Appalachian Trail – the portion I intend to attempt first – this climate gives me a feel for what I’ll be facing. Yesterday it rained. Not the soft rains of western Colorado that are a delight to walk in. No, these rains are deluges, as if the sky were an ocean with the bottom ripped out. It doesn’t rain, it pours. Standing inside and looking out it’s awe-inspiring.