Posted by: aidshike | February 18, 2013

Not just a Walk in the Woods – day eight

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Hello Shelly,

As part of my excitement about the venture of hiking the Appalachian Trail I have started to accumulate books about the trail, many written by people who have hiked it. I have started by reading a book I read a long time ago by Bill Bryson called “A Walk in the Woods – Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail” A New York Times best seller by this amazingly funny and insightful writer of travel memoirs. I will likely add anecdotes and quotes from many books along the way, but I felt I had to share the following piece from the first chapter.  It scared me as much as it amused me…

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“…Nearly everyone I talked to had some gruesome story involving a guileless acquaintance who had gone off hiking the trail with high hope and new boots and come stumbling back two days later with a bobcat attached to his head or dripping blood from an armless sleeve and whispering in a hoarse voice “Bear!” before sinking into a troubled unconsciousness.

The woods were full of peril – rattlesnakes and water moccasins and nests of copperheads; bobcats, bears, coyotes, wolves, and wild boar; loony hillbillies destabilized by gross quantities of impure corn liquor and generations of profoundly unbiblical sex; rabies-crazed skunks, raccoons, and squirrels; poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, and poison salamanders; even a scattering of moose lethally deranged by a parasitic worm that burrows a nest in their brains and befuddles them into chasing hapless hikers through remote, sunny meadows and into glacial lakes.

Literally unimaginable things could happen to you out there… I heard four separate stories (always related with a chuckle) of campers and bears sharing tents for a few confused and lively moments; stories of people abruptly vaporized (“tweren’t nothing left of him but a scorch mark”) by body-sized bolts of lightning when caught in sudden storms on ridgelines; of tents crushed beneath falling trees, or eased off precipices on ball bearings of beaded rain and sent paragliding on to a distant valley floors, or swept away by the watery wall of a flash flood; of hikers beyond counting whose last experience was of trembling earth and the befuddled thought “Now what the —-?”

It required only a little light reading in adventure books and almost no imagination to envision circumstances in which I would find myself caught in a tightening circle of hunger-emboldened wolves, staggering and shredding clothes under an onslaught of pincered fire ants, or dumbly transfixed by the sight of enlivened undergrowth advancing towards me, like a torpedo through water, before being bowled backwards by a sofa-sized boar with cold beady eyes, a piercing squeal, and a slaverous, chomping appetite for pink, plump, city-softened flesh.”

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Enough to make me rethink my goal and wonder if I should just stay working out at the gym…or to actually relish the idea of staying alive in the great outdoors over 2,200 miles.  Ask me again about those two options in a week or a month. In the meantime I will just keep walking, exercising and hiking. Will see where that takes me…

Total miles: 3.2


Responses

  1. amazing. dont get lost again okay! thank God the bears are in hibernating.


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