Report #11 / Special Edition
On June 1, Dick called from Daleville, Virginia, just north of Roanoke. The inevitable, pesky bugs of summer have made sleeping in the shelters nearly impossible. Many hikers, Dick and Rick Rocks included, are choosing to sleep in their tents. Acorn, who thru-hiked the AT in 1996, had returned this year for a predetermined three-week stretch and has since left the trail. Lonestar, a hiker from Australia, came down with the dreaded waterborn disease "Giardia" and has been forced to leave the trail. Friends from North Carolina came to pick him up. Estimates are that he'll need at least ten days to recover. Sleeping in one of the shelters, Green Mountain Man, a fifty-three-year-old hiker, suffered a severe coughing fit. In the morning, two women hikers who were sharing the shelter with him, found him dead.
To a thirsty hiker, the time it takes to filter water can seem unbearable - and therefore unnecessary. But the time it takes to filter water is nothing compared to the time it can take to recover from Giardia. To those of you who are hiking the AT now, or preparing to hike in the future, don't skimp on safety. And for your sake, as well as your family's, see a doctor before you go. Please.
Dick never met Green Mountain Man, but spoke of his death in a somber tone. Hikers who have prepared for the trip know about the dangers of falling, breaking bones, suffering heat stroke, sunburn, and Giardia. Crime on the AT is rare. And yet, those dangers, and more, do exist on the AT, just as they do anywhere else. My heart aches for the family of Green Mountain Man.