The Hike That Should Have Been

…but wasn’t, thanks in part to Kia Motors Finance and their desire to make registering our leased car in a new state a ridiculous, ongoing ordeal. Long story, short version? Our shiny 2017 Sportage has been sitting unregistered in the driveway for five days now. How does that relate to hiking and backpacking? Well, it eliminates it, that’s how.

I had hoped to return to Thunder Ridge Overlook and dance a few miles down and back on the AT both north and south, and post pictures and a hike report. But it’s a fifty minute drive from here which, without a car, becomes a thirty mile hike of its own.

But I’m also a fan of self-realized perspective. And placed in the context of events this week, I’m not going to rant endlessly about missing a hike. I’ve spent the days leading up to this post grieving with those affected by the Las Vegas massacre, and lamenting the loss of one of the musical heroes of my youth, the late, great Tom Petty. Those things do make a protracted battle with Kia Finance and a missed hike seem awfully small.

So, to those dealing with unbearable loss post-Vegas shootings, I’m standing with you. To Kia? As Tom Petty so adroitly put it, “I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.”

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Almost As If On Cue…

…the young couple whose exploits I was following, they¬†who vanished from their online AT thru-hike journal for over five weeks, materialized from the internet mist three days after my post here last week, delivering multi-day chunks of news in an effort to catch up those of us following them. It was a relief to see that they were still in good health and spirits! The pair had, since their last writing, hammered through New Hampshire (those Whites!) and had made their way up and down the bulk of Maine and into the Hundred Mile Wilderness before their journaling ended. Their last entry was dated September 21st, so I’m assuming they finished their quest and took their photos atop the “Northern Terminus” sign on Katahdin.

I’ll be checking back to make sure, of course. Just like I did during their five weeks of silence. In the meantime, fall hiking season, my absolute favorite, is upon me. I need to start planning some disappearing acts of my own…

(Update, September 29: They did indeed finish, and posted a photo of themselves smiling on top of the sign yesterday. Well done!)

When A Journal Writer “Disappears” From The Trail

At the beginning of thru-hiker season, I picked out two hiker journals to follow, the same as I did the previous year. As I detailed in an earlier post in March, these two souls barely hit fifty miles before abandoning their respective quests. So, given how early it was in the Springer-to-Katahdin season, I chose two more journals to follow.

The first, a solo guy in my age group, wrote detailed daily journal entries filled with poetry, photos and personal observations that went beyond the typical “The weather sucked today. I ate Pop Tarts for breakfast and saw a rat snake.” type of journal post. He stayed positive through his hardships and finished his hike.

The second, the young couple I chose to follow, didn’t maintain the high level of journaling that the solo guy did. And that’s okay. “Journal your own journal” feels just as right as “Hike your own hike” does. They gave the basics and a good sense of how they were doing on their journey. Perfectly satisfactory.

Until they dropped off the journaling planet.

It’s been five weeks since they’ve posted, leading one person following their trek to write a concerned note in their guest book. I too have wondered if they’re okay. But I’m more inclined to believe that they just let their journal wither. An analytical reader could almost see it coming. They went from posting almost daily, to posting groups of entries at the same time in an effort to catch up, to lumping multiple days into one post.

Then silence.

They last wrote about leaving Vermont. If everything went well over the last five weeks or so, they’ve probably finished or nearly finished by now (Baxter State Park closes soon; if they haven’t completed the trip, they need to hustle!). I hope they were successful, and are getting all of their notes put together so those of us who followed them can hear the final details of their journey…