Thursday, October 8, 2009
This turned out to be a wonderful day. I knew it would be when we made arrangements to have lunch with our long-time hiking buddy, Herb. We were both really anxious to see Herb so we left a little after 9 AM for our noon lunch appointment. We arrived a little early, so it was easy to spend the hour and a half in REI, next door to the restaurant.
At REI, the door had not closed behind us before we saw another hiking buddy, Sue. We waved and hugged and talked for the next hour. We really went there to do a little shopping so we finally tore ourselves away. We’ll have to get back with Sue later, because we have many more things to discuss. In the few minutes we now had before meeting Herb, I managed to find a pair of hiking shorts and also a pair of zip off hiking pants. They didn’t have the pants in my size, but they were very happy to order them for me. Gene looked at a few day packs, but decided to wait until this weekend to decide whether he wants to purchase. The sale is this weekend anyway; he could save 20%.
Our lunch with Herb was great and we got caught up with what he has been up to. His hiking activities often included other of our hiking friends, so we got caught up with them, as well.
Both Herb and Sue had done sections hikes on the Appalachian Trail this summer. Sue with her son on the southern end of the trail and Herb in New Hampshire. Those discussions, along with being surrounded by hiking equipment in REI, made us yearn to be on the trail again. We have a tentative plan of going back to the AT in Virginia in the spring and now we are all the more anxious.
If there is anything that is a true passion for us other than traveling, it is hiking. I got started hiking in the early 1980s. After a difficult divorce, one of my uncles felt I would be well served by getting out in the woods and close to nature. That medicine certainly cured my depressed spirit, but with the side effect that I fell in love with hiking. A few years later my parents became members of Tennessee Trails Association and encouraged me to join. That was one of the best things I ever did. TTA offered me the opportunity to hike with a group almost every weekend. Now I could hike trails all over Tennessee that I had been too nervous to tackle alone. I met Gene through TTA and he introduced me to backpacking and long-distance hiking. I fell in love with that, also.
Gene has been hiking a little longer than I have. He got started by going camping in the mid 1970s. He loved the whole idea and experience of pitching a tent, sitting by the campfire, and spending the weekend outside. To help fill the time during the days, he went on a short nature hike. He liked that, so continued doing short hikes when he went camping. When you have the car to carry all your stuff, it is easy to add a little more and a little more. His car was soon loaded to the gills for every camping trip. He had heard about backpacking and bought a couple backpacking magazines and ordered a couple backpacking gear catalogues (one from REI). His idea was to use backpacking equipment which was smaller and lighter to reduce the amount of “stuff” he was taking for a camping weekend. He eventually left the car behind at the trail head and walked with his backpack to the campsite, even if that site was a hundred miles away.
Our discussions with good hiking buddies today has us looking at the AT Data book and surfing AT websites tonight. Oh, to be on the trail again.