Once upon a time …

How do legends become legends? What makes deeds great enough that they need to be shared across the land? Is it the actions that make the hero? Or is being a character of legend something we are born with? I suppose it pays to have a good advertising team. It’s all about spin.

I would love to share the tale of a legendary character here. I would love to give the exciting details of his journey, a journey like no other. Yes I would love to share such an exciting tale, but sadly I can only work with what I have. THIS particular story is just about lil ole me. Or more specifically, some recent adventures of mine.

“Who,” one might reasonably ask, “ARE you?”

I guess that might be a good place to start.

Everyone has a tale to tell. And each tale is unique to the teller, even if it may share much with another’s story. In the last few months, I have shared parts of my personal story with many different people, while learning bits and pieces of their own tales. All the snippets are blending together in a mosaic that to me display human life in all its complicated simplicity. Truth is often truly stranger than fiction.

I may still be wondering where this my adventure will take me, but it has become clear to me that wherever it goes, I won’t be going alone. A book was always part of the “plan”. The above quote might just be the first few sentences. I think I am now officially writing THREE books.

Just imagine if I not only manage to finish one, but actually get it PUBLISHED. Stranger things HAVE happened.



Zen and the right nostril

The 13 stages of enlightenment by nostril habitation:

  1. Surprise: Oy! A bug just flew up my right nostril!
  2. Amusement: Ha! Another bug just flew up right nostril.
  3. Ridicule: These are really dumb bugs.
  4. Curiosity: What is so special about my right nostril anyway?
  5. Fear: What is WRONG with my right nostril?
  6. Denial: There is no way that was another fly up my right nostril!
  7. Annoyance: Enough with my right nostril already!
  8. Anger: If another one of you flies up my right nostril I will hunt you, your neighbors, and all of your families down. I know where you all live!
  9. Bargaining: How about trying the left nostril for a change?
  10. Desperation: What politician do I need to sacrifice to keep flies out of my right nostril?
  11. Acceptance: Obviously my right nostril is where it’s at. Do what you will flies.
  12. Enlightenment: Come all flies, be one with me within my right nostril. Avoid the left nostril! That way lies confusion.
  13. Nirvana: Man found dead in the woods. Witnesses claim he was asphyxiated by flies. Autopsy revealed an unimaginable concentration of insect carcasses in the man’s right nostril.

Join the Right Holy Church of Nostril Habitation. Achieve Enlightenment in mere hours. Or if you wish to make a donation: #gofundme

Navigating without a map

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    Hungry Mother State Park

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    Hungry Mother State Park 36.883776, -81.526499 Hungry Mother State Park

“Why am I out here?”

Ultimately, every hiker will be asking themselves this question… most likely after a particularly bad or painful day. The funny thing is, at that moment in time they may not even know the answer to that question. We all start the trail with our reasons; our own justifications for attempting such a grand adventure. However, it seems to me that the justification we give ourselves to get started may be completely different from the “real” reason we are out here… often to our own surprise.

But that is how life really works.

This question has been bouncing around my mind like a pong ball of late, especially as any vision I had of the HOW of this journey has been completely replaced by that pesky bugger known to some as reality. In the last few weeks, I have found a new hiking partner, systematically gotten caught by every hiking town with any allure in a 300 mile radius, spent about 6 times my budget, found at least 3 places  that will be my future life and career, walked several hundred miles … most of it NOT on the trail, embraced my inner savage, helped my current hiking partner find her future porch rocking chair mate-for-life, had a nasty stomach flu, and dyed my hair and beard red, blue, and purple.

Yet I still am not clear what I expect to find.

This confusion, combined with a severe lack of cooperation from the Gods of Technology, is why I have not updated in a while … incidentally causing a few folk to wonder if I had been abducted by aliens or possibly eloped with a Sasquatch. Now, as I lie beneath a clear night sky in the oddly appropriately named Hungry Mother State Park (Virginia), I am in a position to share once again, even if I am not quite sure what I am actually sharing. My future vision, usually vague when it comes to myself, is now about as clear as wearing a blindfold in a sandstorm. The way I see it, these are the possible scenarios:

  1. I will eventually finish. Preferably before the grand celebration party that is no doubt being planned as I type. Or at least in the next decade.
  2. I will be kidnapped by aliens or elope with a lonely Sasquatch.
  3. I will start a hippie commune. Or go a little more upscale with a bed and breakfast/hostel. I will eventually become part of the mythology of the trail.
  4. I will actually complete a book.
  5. A combination of any of the above.
  6. None of the above.

Yep. All is clear now.

NOTE: One of the tech issues I have been fighting with tooth and nail has to do with photo transfer, so sadly youse guys are gonna have to wait for a new batch of masterpieces. 

The Animal Food Song

The Boar Song:
Sniff sniff sniff. Food food food. What’s that! Our place!! Our food!! It’s one of those weird two legged things. Our food!! Our place!! Let’s scare it away! Snort with me brother! We will get it. Snort! Stomp! It keeps going. Coward. Food food food!

The Bear Song:
Food? Food! Oops. Not food. Maybe that is food. Mmmmmm. Food! More food!

The Mama Bear Song:
Don’t you dare touch my baby!! Back off! That’s MY baby!! Food? Food! Oops. Not food. Maybe that is food. Mmmmmm. Food! More food!

The Squirrel Song:
Hurry hurry hurry hurry. Food!!! Hurry hurry hurry hurry. Food!!! Hurry hurry hurry hurry. Food!!! Stranger Danger!!! Run away run away run away! Hurry hurry hurry hurry. Food!!! Hurry hurry hurry hurry. Food!!!

The Chipmunk Song:
The Squirrel Song only 3 times faster.

The Bird Song:
Foodfoodfoodfoodfood! Danger! Pretect the eggs! Follow me!! Woohoo! It followed. Try again! It worked again! One more time!! It worked!! The egg is safe! Foodfoodfoodfoodfood!

The Fly Song:
Smells like food! Buzzzzzzzzzz! Oops, not food. < – Repeat 1000 times!

The Hungry Hiker Song:
FOOD!! I don’t care how big an animal you are, that’s MY food!! Don’t mess with me!!! I’m HUNGRY!!! It’s dirty? Who cares! I’m HUNGRY!!!

4255 Green Corner Rd, Hartford, TN 37753

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4255 Green Corner Rd, Hartford, TN 37753 35.786213, -83.101134 Standing Bear Farm

Day: 45
Trail miles: 240.5

Evolution of a Trail Name

Burningtown Gap, NC

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Burningtown Gap, NC 35.222871, -83.562384 Burningtown Gap

Day: 23
Trail miles: 124.4

Part of the right of passage, or maybe a true induction into the Appalachian Trail Community, involves adopting a Trail Name. These names come about in many different ways though all will be influenced by the trail itself. Some choose their own name, some will have it chosen for them. It could be something that just sounds good, or maybe something that describes a character trait. Maybe an event or activity creates the name. There are really no rules other than personal willingness to take the name.

It took a while for the trail to name me, as I have mentioned in a few posts. I was starting to think of naming myself Teflon because nothing was really sticking. But just today the trail finally came through, with the help of a hiker called Solitude. Yesterday, after only doing a couple of miles I encountered Siler Bald, which immediately screamed out to the photographer in me. I set my pack down, took my camera out, and climbed the side trail to the treeless summit (hence the Bald). Solitude had the same idea. We both were so taken by the view on top that we lunched up there … if one can call three hours a lunch. Solitude even decided to change his plan of hiking another 12 miles to camp up there, and the only reason I did not was a lack of water. Today we crossed paths at the next Bald (Wayah), and Solitude said he had the perfect name for me.

He nailed it!

From now on I will be known on the trail as Picnic.