Countdown – 29 DAYS!!!
I am so looking forward to the trail – I think I have a good understanding of the challenges and hurdles that will face me. The ideal of sun and warm days overlooking meadows of flowers, of incredible overlooks exploding with miles of picturesque scenery, and of enjoying the cool summer breeze under the canopy of the forest are all true…a certain percentage of the time. But I also see the reality of rain, & pain, & struggle. I am trying to prepare myself for the mountains and valleys, storms and snakes, sun and blue skies with a positive attitude of embracing every day, every situation, every twist and turn with as much enthusiasm as possible. A dear friend of mine says that I have the ability to see the dark cloud behind every silver lining. This must change on the Appalachian Trail. Reality, yes…pessimism, no.
Speaking of reality, I found these two sad reports just yesterday. First is about the thru-hiking grandmother from Columbia, PA (Brenda Petroski – age 60). She pulled off the Appalachian Trail after three days of hiking! According to the Lancaster, PA online newspaper, Brenda cited her reason as “some sickness and just plain fatigue,” Grandmother Petroski started from Georgia’s Springer Mountain on Thursday, March 20. She plans to regroup at home in Columbia and start hiking the AT again from Pennsylvania northward toward Maine. I was convinced early that if I was going to succeed I needed to do some good training and try to be in as good as shape as possible. My mind sill thinks I’m 35, but my body whispers, shouts, and groans the reality of time.
Second is about Robert Crampton, (84 years old – makes me look like a youngster), a resident of Springfield, Mo. Starting in Georgia, heading northbound, he was just five miles into his 2,186-mile trek, when a freak accident ended his effort to become the oldest veteran to hike the Appalachian Trail. Robert injured his left arm and leg Monday, March 17, when he slipped on mud and tumbled off the trail down a steep embankment. According to an interview with a Springfield newspaper, Robert shared, “I slipped down the mountain about 20 feet and managed to grab a tree that didn’t pull out of the ground…. “I was sliding pretty fast and you better believe I wouldn’t be here talking to you if I hadn’t grabbed that tree.” Crampton said he managed to get his heavy pack off his back and was able to push it back up the hill to the edge of the trail, where he blew his emergency whistle trying to attract some attention. He had injured both his left arm and his left leg – enough that he knew his hike was over. He ended up having to hike about a mile to find help at Hike Inn located at Amicolola Falls State Park. This means that Robert did not even make it to Springer Mountain but injured himself on the approach trail just south of the terminus. Accidents can happen to anybody, anytime – my goal is to hike smart, be careful, act my age, and pray daily.