[Dick Takes a Hike ...]
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Report #2
April 10, 1999

Executive Summary

The AT in Georgia On Saturday morning, April 10, Dick arrived in Suches, Georgia, 20 miles from the trailhead, and called home. In three-and-a-half days, he had hiked 37 miles, a figure that included a grueling 8-mile approach to the trailhead, and several miles from the trail into town and back again. Never one to mince words, he said, "That first day was a killer."

Important Note

It is the practice on the AT that every hiker is given a trail name by his fellow hikers. Dick had hoped to be called "Sweepstaker." Instead, he is will now be known, from Georgia to Maine, as "Every Hiker's Dream." Details follow.

The Tale

Such a beautiful place, such pretty flowers, such this and such that. All those "suches" gave the little town of Suches, Georgia, its name. At least that's what Dick told me. I suspect that's what someone told him. As far as he was concerned, the crowning glory of Suches was its post office. That's where he received my lovingly packed box of instant oatmeal, juice boxes, Pop Tarts, and assorted high-energy bars from the health food store. That's also where he stuffed a big box with his self-inflating air mattress, Polertec shirt, gloves, two t-shirts, and a radio, and mailed the assortment home to me. I'm no judge of weight, or age, or the number of beans in a guess-and-win jar, but I'd estimate he shaved off a good 8 pounds. That 57-pound pack had become too much to carry. It posed no problem when walking on flat ground, but climbing up and down mountains proved far more difficult than he had imagined. Dick used to be a news director for a radio station. He listens to the news on either radio or television several hours a day. I predict he'll ask me to mail back that radio.

Time for a rest at a shelter in GeorgiaI asked how - and where - he'd been sleeping. The first night, he pitched his tent next to one of the shelters. Most shelters on the AT are three-sided wooden structures where a hiker can lay his sleeping bag. People crowd into the shelters and sleep like pickets on a fence. The second night he slept in a shelter, but most of the other hikers stayed up till midnight talking, playing cards, and laughing. Dick is a very social person, but his normal 9:00 p.m. bedtime keeps him from being a party animal. The next night he pitched his tent in the woods all by himself.

Remember that Polartec shirt he sent home? Well, he had been using that as his pillow and he always sleeps with a pillow. He might ask me to mail that back too.

On one of the first few days on the trail, another hiker asked him why a man his age would want to hike the AT. He answered, "Isn't this every hiker's dream?" And thus, his trail name was born. The next night at the shelter, someone asked what his trail name was. Poor guy. He's taking a lot of ribbing over that name. But I think it suits him just fine.

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Rand McNally Road Atlas of the USARand McNally Road Atlas of the USA
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The Long Road Turns to Joy: A walking guide to meditationThich Nhat Hanh
The Long Road Turns to Joy: A walking guide to meditation
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Walking the Appalachian TrailLarry Luxenburg
Walking the Appalachian Trail
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