Tag Archives: AT

Shut Up – Shut Down

20131010-112441.jpgSurprisingly, this journey often renders us clueless when it comes to events in the “news.” Although we are in close proximity to some of the most developed and longest settled parts of the US, our phones rarely get service and we experience long breaks in contact from media-mediated life.

Imagine our surprise last week arriving at Shenandoah National Park, and finding it completely deserted. During October’s “leaf season” the park receives 240,000 visitors using walking trails, scenic roads, campsites, cabins, motels, waysides, and taprooms. The Appalachian Trail crosses scenic Skyline Drive more than 20 times, so a thru-hiker’s experience is typically social, crossing roads and having access to car-culture, restaurant meals, laundry, showers and beers.

Our experience was markedly different. We walked on deserted Skyline drive, cowboy camped at outlooks, stayed in abandoned shelters, and stopped at shuttered waysides to fill up on water and tap power with nary a beer in sight. In the end, we saw more bears than humans.

Having the park to ourselves was an unexpected gift, but one that came with a cost.

Entering Wanesboro after seven days of silence we have had a chance to hear the reasoning behind this goverment shutdown. The finger pointing and ineptitude of law makers is astounding; their selfishness and self-aggrandizement is shameful. This theatre of distraction is not what defines us, and these talking heads do not reflect our collective voice. The noise of the media – the epic drama of political power – dehumanizes us all.

Returning to mediated life was a rude awakening from a sublime dream – the spell was broken by a string of curses that sounded like car crashes, like an alarm going off or a siren signalling a fire. 

After walking through 11 states and sharing the trail with veterans of various wars, retirees, highschool and college students and graduates, teachers, artists, doctors, engineers, mechanics, grocery clerks and people from all walks of life, I can say these politicians do not represent the shared vision of America I have seen.

The Appalachian Trail is a publicly stewarded resource that facilitates the best expression I’ve seen of a true Union. The trail is a sovereign state – one where care and respect of one’s self and others allows for a self-governing system. Individuals can surpass menial judgments and meaningless divisions of class, stature, or success while simultaneously expressing values of personal responsibility, kindness, and adventure. The AT represents an autonomous society where unexpected kindness from strangers – personal gifts of time and resources – are far more valuable than any currency.

How can we speak to you, America? How can we change the voice we hear broadcast on every station, from every television and device- the alien voice dominating our shared narrative- into our own? How can we turn this desperate cry into a song we share? How can we sing together, America?

Lying Liar-Pants

Dear Readers, It is with much dismay that we must publicly chastise our fellow Appalachian Trail hikers. For over two months, we’ve been warned that we would hate Pennsylvania. The Rocky State. The State of Twisted Ankles and Wobbly Knees. The Viewless State. The State of Inhospitable Ill Repute. The Endless Nightmare.

You guys are lying liar-pants’.

Pennsylvania – is a rock-star, weaving her way through charming towns and over soothing vistas. The end of each day we were greeted with a sweet reward in towns or fields or woods. The days went quickly… we finished hiking through PA earlier this week. We miss her already. This is our love-letter-list to the mis-understood gem of the AT:

Delaware Water Gap – Our first day in PA we were greeted by a church that offers a free hostel and shower right in downtown.20130926-140924.jpg

Wind Gap’s Beer Stein bar – The first town in awhile where they understood and watched out for our vegan dietary restrictions. They had plentiful grub. Charming Staff. And of course the beer and whiskey we needed to toast our victory of 900 miles. They let us camp in the back grassy field. And when we awoke the next morning, they opened their kitchen and fridge walk-in and let us cook whatever we wanted FOR FREE. 20130926-141137.jpg

The cop hostel – We night-hiked past timber rattle snakes and tic-infested fields to arrive at the charming town of Palmerton where you can sleep in the basement of town hall and shower for free if you check in with the local police station. Which we did. and enjoyed immensely.

The salty inn-keeper at the B&B who gave us a huge discount and let us tent for free behind the bar 20130915-182938.jpg

Hawk Mountain’s Mike – a friend-of-a-friend whom we’d never met, picked us up and generously hosted us for two nights in his charming and rustic country abode. Einstein the cat reigned supreme and we had our best zero days yet. Swimming in ponds, reading, cooking, showering, singing around the bonefire and best of all, meeting many of Mike’s local friends who were super lovely and smart and fun. 20130915-183056.jpg

The 501 shelter – beautifully maintained by two AT hiker alumni. They had shelter kittens who snuggled up under Harpo’s neck and kept her warm on the 35 degree night. 20130926-210445.jpg

1000 mile marker – a huge milestone for us which we achieved on Harpo’s dad’s birthday. A great day for everyone.


Easy terrain – despite some rocks – there were amazing days of flat terrain, breath-taking field walks, pleasant night-hiking, fire roads. We pulled our biggest miles ever out in PA – achieving several 25-mile days. And our first marathon day of over 27 miles. 20130925-095322.jpg

Half-way point! -Another emotional day for us. So awesome. 20130925-094624.jpg

Intentional night hiking into Boiling Springs. A fabulous day of mostly flat terrain where we were able to hike easily, sometime just by the light of the full harvest moon. We got into town at 9:30pm and the local bar was closing but sold us a six-pack. We could legally camp for free just outside of town by the railroad tracks which soothed us all into our best slumber in weeks. The next morning we checked in at the regional ATC office and loved visiting the cute café down the street for fancy coffee drinks. The town was beautiful and charming. 20130925-095755.jpg

Pretty state and federal parks – often with grocery supplies and potable water and other amenities right on trail – so we were able to gain back some of our urban pot-bellies eating so many oreos and potato chips.

WEIRD BUGS DUDE! What is up with your totally weird collection of bugs? Groucho got some outstanding pictures. 20130926-205723.jpg

The trail weaves right by or through many charming, historic towns in PA, including Duncannon, home of the notoriously run-down Doyle Hotel. $40 got us a room for 3, replete with cobwebs. The spot also has a bar/restaurant. The proprietors are DELIGHTFUL. And the PO in this town rocked. So nice. 20130926-210420.jpg