Shortly after returning from Maine, I contacted REI with a proposal to share my adventure at a local store (Cincinnati). The proposal was warmly received but it took quite a few months to finalize an available date. The date was set and I had a great opportunity to relate my thru-hike journey to about thirty interested people.
When I arrived at the store, Owen was already setting up the area for my workshop. This friendly young REI employee was so genuine and enthusiastic about my talk. We exchanged some small talk as he put the finishing touches on the room with moving screens and chairs. He expressed a little concern about the timing of the event because Major League Baseball scheduled their All-Star Game (held in Cincinnati) on the same night without consulting either one of us. I could see my thirty participants quickly shrinking to three. To my surprise, twenty-eight people arrived. Owen shared after the meeting that there was a wait-list of forty-five individuals that wanted to attend. I decided to work with Owen and arrange a repeat presentation – maybe as early as October.
I really enjoy telling others about my journey. I had a PowerPoint presentation filled with photos of the trail to help the folks visualize the thru-hike. I talked a bit about some of the unique aspects of each state along the path, some of my hiking gear (most of which I purchased at REI), and some of the special colleagues I met along the Appalachian Trail. The Q/A session after the presentation was lots of fun for me. I like answering questions and the inquiries serve as an interesting reflection of the uniqueness of the crowd.