Lions and tigers and cars, oh my! …

The blog on alcohol stoves will have to wait. There are a few words I need to get off my chest now before the feelings behind them are forgotten.

Did you know you can check out books from the library on your eBook reader? Maybe I’m behind the times but I didn’t know this until just the other day. I love the library. They let you borrow things for free! I mean, how cool is that? Well, not as cool as letting me borrow books in my underwear from home that’s for sure. Oh, wait, they do that too! So I downloaded A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson because it was the only one the county library had on the subject. Anyway, he brought up some fears I hadn’t thought of yet. The CDC website and I are becoming fast friends.

Yesterday after a little debate about whether there were rattlesnakes in the east, my husband fortuitously came upon a short 2009 documentary National Geographic: Appalachian Trail on Netflix. We were trying to be hip parents by not interrupting our soon to be 14 year old’s birthday shindig. Basically, we were hiding out in our bedroom on our laptops emerging only to ensure survival by providing food and controlling birthday candle fires. I was really excited to watch this with my husband so he could get an idea of what trail life would be like on the AT… and to prove that there were rattlesnakes. :) I’ve been reading books and trail journals, browsing through AT websites, and just soaking up every bit of information I can get and then relaying the key points to him. Unfortunately, the movie was just eye candy and a tiny lecture about acid rain and DDT. Don’t get me wrong, it was really very pretty. I guess I was just disappointed there wasn’t more in the way of the day to day life of a hiker.

When we were done watching that, I started reading the news app on my phone. Coincidentally, the first article I read in the National-World News section was about the accident at the Trail Days parade in Damascus, VA. (I wonder if Netflix’s magic search algorithm ninjas found this news and decided people would like to know more about the AT via Nat Geo?) The small town has an annual festival celebrating the AT that’s well known among hikers. The article states that 50-60 people were injured when an elderly man drove his car into the parade. The injuries range from minor to critical but thankfully with no fatalities and it appears to have been an accident or possibly a medical emergency involving the elderly driver. Three people were flown by helicopters to area hospitals. Several people lifted the car to help those trapped beneath it. The stories of hikers uniting that I’ve been reading about since I started researching the AT has just been verified ten fold. This kind of heartfelt solidarity is something I can only dream to be a part of … minus the car carnage. I want to be surrounded by people one day that are so brave and kind that they would LIFT A FREAKING CAR OFF ME without batting an eyelash. These are incredible people in my book. People who may not have insurance. There is a fund being set up to help the injured so please check back here if you can help.

I just wanted to say that my heart truly goes out to the friends and families of the hikers and everyone involved and I wish all the injured a speedy recovery.

I can only imagine what Mike would be going through if this was the year I had decided to attempt my thru-hike.

So far our list of fears includes: bears, snakes, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, hypothermia, heat stroke, hantavirus, falling off a cliff, giardiasis, bobcats, coyotes, good old fashioned murder, wolves, wild boar, poisonous plants, moose … oh, and let’s not forget cars.

“The American woods have been unnerving people for 300 years. The inestimably priggish and tiresome Henry David Thoreau thought nature was splendid, splendid indeed, so long as he could stroll to town for cakes and barley wine, but when he experienced real wilderness, on a visit to Katahdin in 1846, he was unnerved to the core. This wasn’t the tame world of overgrown orchards and sun-dappled paths that passed for wilderness in suburban Concord, Massachusetts, but a forbidding, oppressive, primeval country that was ‘grim and wild … savage and dreary,’ fit only for ‘men nearer of kin to the rocks and wild animals than we.’ The experience left him, in the words of one biographer, ‘near hysterical.’

But even men far tougher and more attuned to the wilderness than Thoreau were sobered by its strange and palpable menace. Daniel Boone, who not only wrestled bears but tried to date their sisters, described corners of the southern Appalachians as ‘so wild and horrid that it is impossible to behold them without terror.’  When Daniel Boone is uneasy, you know it’s time to watch your step.”

– A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson.

I am absolutely terrified. I mean, I’m still gonna do it. I’m just saying, don’t laugh at me when I get really defensive about it being more than just a walk in the woods.

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