As he promised, RickRock has written to share his thoughts on the journey he and Dick began last April. Not a day goes by that Dick and I don't talk about some aspect of his hike, whether it's to relay a forgotten episode, or to relive a momentous one. Rick's report reminded us of many of those moments. We smiled as we read his report. I hope you do too.
Oh, one other thing. Rick didn't tell you about his coming-home party. He walked into a room of 40-some people to find all of them, every single one, men and women alike, wearing beards. I can't wait to see that picture!
And one more thing. Please consider sending me your dream. Report No. 32 has all the details. I can't think of a more fitting end to this website adventure than to include =your= thoughts. Perhaps they will inspire some man or woman who is, even now, considering whether or not to head for Springer in the Spring.
The Tale-From Rickrock: The evening before I began my trip I stayed at the Amicalola Lodge, situated at the foot of the approach trail that leads to Springer Mountain. That night I took a little walk on a quarter mile trail that loops around the top of a tiny little hill adjacent to the lodge. The trail was illuminated by ornamental lampposts. Even though it was almost 10 p.m., I could see every step that I took. There was a gazebo where I could stop and take a rest if I became weary. As I walked, it struck me as to how completely different this walk would be as compared to the 2,160 miles that lie ahead. On the AT, each step could be the one to end my trip with sprained back, ripped apart knee or busted ankle. I thought to myself, will I finish the trip? Does it matter? What difference will it make in my life? In the life of others? To the rest of the world? Who knows? Who cares?
As I hiked I found that what I had suspected was true. The trail was not illuminated every thirty feet. On several occasions I tripped and fell, ranging from a stumble on uneven pavement in downtown Waynesboro, VA to the more spectacular and acrobatic diving episode into Maine's fragile alpine vegetation. Each step and misstep added to the experience, just like each person I met added to the experience. I cherished the time I spent with Dick and my fellow hikers. I learned so much from seeing how others perceive the world in which we live. I learned much about myself during the process.
On this web site, Zita describes the meaning of "Trail Magic" and how miracles can occur when you least expect them and when you need them the most. I experienced miracles all the time. Sometimes they took the form of unforgettable moments: playing with the ponies in Grayson Highlands, the night hike into Pennsylvania, the weather clearing up just as I ascended Max Patch, flying on my way down Big Bald, the reunion with Dick in Glencliff after I had gotten sick, the rainstorm at the NJ/NY state line, the insane decent down Mt. Moosilauke, and the summit of Katahdin, among a thousand others.
Sometimes "Trail Magic" came in the form of people. Mom and Dad, Sandy, Dick and Zita, Bob and Nicki Abbott giving me my most needed hitch, Vern, Matt, Beth, Rex, the Shoes and the Mecks for their incredible generosity, Bob Peoples at Kincora, Dawn, Wondwossen and Jonathan for the I-70 picnic, Bill and Josh in Shenandoah, Corsican's friend Mike who helped me while I was sick, Brian and Jim at I-70, the Poplaski family and many an unknown soul who gave a stinky, sweaty hiker a ride into town.
So, I will answer the questions I had posed to myself at the beginning of the trip: It all matters, at least it all matters to me. From the response I received from friends, co-workers and family, it seems to matter to them as well. It was an adventure that I will never forget. My view of the world has changed, without question for the better. Even though this has been Dick's web site it has been a chronicle of my experiences as well, both good and bad. To all those who followed along via the web site and wished us well, I thank you. To those considering a hike of your own, good luck. Good or bad, you won't forget it and it will make a difference in your life.
Adios, Rickrock GA->ME '99