I am walking through three books right now as I try to get myself prepared for the Appalachian Trail. The first is a re-read of A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt. After meeting him a few weeks ago, I wanted to revisit his book. I remember it being an enjoyable read and Jeff’s personal testimony of his journey made me jump back into his 1998 thru-hike. In my vicarious hike with Wrong Foot he is only 134 miles from Springer Mountain and he has already spent the night with a skunk, got his trail name through a series of blisters, climbed over Blood Mountain, and spent the night at Blueberry Patch Hostel. It’s a great book if you want a quick glimpse of the A.T. experience.
The second book is the 2014 edition of a book I have read many times – The A.T. Guide by David “Awol” Miller. I have read the 2013 edition so much that the pages are following out of it. This guidebook is a combination of a mile chart, a map with elevation markings, a map of towns near the trail, a list of shelters and tent sites and a list of places for resupply and accommodations near the path. This is the book I have used to map out a possible itinerary for my journey. It is the only book (besides a journal) that I plan to put in my backpack. It will be my map, my reference, and maybe my best friend along the way.
The third book is one that was recently loaned to me. It was written by William Schuette, a 51 year-old man from Versailles, OH! The name of the book is White Blaze Fever. I have just read a few pages but William is a good writer and I am already interested in traveling along with him toward Katahdin. His thru-hike was completed in 2000, just a few years after Jeff. Each book I read emphasized the uniqueness of everyone’s adventure. The trail is the same but the experiences are so different…different animals, different hikers met along the path, different trail magic, different weather, different injuries, different discouragements, different joys…but the trail is the same.
I’ve not read two journals about the A.T. at the same time. I think I’ll track them both in the A.T. Guide to observe the progress of both. Sound confusing? If so, I will lay one aside and complete one journey at a time.