Monday, September 6, 2010
Well, this is a long story that goes way back to early spring. It is one of those things that just happened without planning and has been a joy to watch it unfold as the months have passed. This story is about Cody.
Way back last winter, we made plans to come to New England as the support team for Herb and Dwight. Because we were doing that, we also decided to do a little hiking ourselves to add a few miles to our existing AT miles. Those plans put us somewhere along the AT for the entire season. Wow! Because we were going to be closely associated with the trial for that long, We decided to follow a few of the thru-hikers via their trail journals.
Like many RVers who share their adventures by means of an on-line travel journal or blog, hikers also post trail journals. Probably the most popular host for the AT hikers is Trail Journals.com. I searched through the list of hikers for this year and selected about six to follow. It wasn’t a totally random selection. I wanted more mature hikers rather than those in their 20s, but other than that distinction, I didn’t know anyone of those selected. Over time, other hikers were added to my list. One name I got from the owner of an outfitter in Maryville, TN when I was paying for my purchase, but most of the additional hikers are people we’ve met along the trail ourselves.
Cody is from my original selection--one from a list of hundreds hiking the trail this season. After I had been following Cody for several weeks I learned she is from Tennessee (Cookeville area) and is a member of Tennessee Trails, our own hiking club. What a coincidence. You cannot imagine our surprise when Cody was met by one of her good friends in Hot Springs, North Carolina and that friend turned out to be a friend and high school classmate of Gene’s. Holy Cow!
Needless to say, we have taken a special interest in Cody. We’ve been avid readers of her trail journal keeping up with her progress on this 2100-mile journey. While we were hiking in Northern Virginia, I knew Cody was close at hand. Because the hikers are unable to post to their journals every day, to pinpoint one of them is very difficult. But every day that I was on the trail, I had my eye out for Cody.
Because we didn’t hike every day and because we took a week off for a trip to Nashville, and another week off visiting with friends, Cody got past us. It wasn’t until Maryland that we finally ran into her. Gene got the honors. He met her on the trail in Maryland just north of Harper’s Ferry. I figured my chances of seeing Cody were pretty slim after that.
Now that we are sitting in Gorham, New Hampshire, most of those hikers I’ve been following have come into the Whites. All of a sudden I realized we’d still be here when Cody arrived. Yesterday, my dream came true. Cody arrived in Gorham and we met her for dinner. Stick Walker (and his dog, Belle) was also in town and he joined us for dinner, as well.
This morning, we gave Cody, Stick Walker, and Belle a ride back to the trail. With hugs, best wishes for success, and goodbyes we watched as they crossed US 2 and headed north.
By being so close to the trail and seeing and speaking with so many of the thru-hikers, we have gained a much deeper appreciation for their level of endurance. It’s not just a physical feat to walk 2100 miles. It is physically demanding, of course, and if you’re not in shape when you start, you certainly are within a few weeks. But it is also a very mentally demanding endeavor. This may very well be the most challenging aspect of the hike. It is hard enough for me to keep a positive mental attitude when the gray water tank gets full during my shower, or something I need for dinner is not in the local grocery, or the wind is blowing too hard to put the awning out. I can’t imagine the mental stamina required to keep moving forward day after day, mile after rocky mile in all kinds of weather with your only creature comforts slung on your back. They face the challenges of the trail and their own personal fears head on and keep on walking. The thru-hikers are remarkable people.
Good luck, Cody, Stick Walker, and Belle. Just 297.9 miles to go--”all the way to the top”.