Thanks first of all to Rockin’ www.ladyonarock.com for this unexpected and humbling honor! Rockin’ has, I believe, the most cutting edge, practical blog out there when it comes to backpacking and the outdoors. Jam packed with incredible photography and blog entries that take you out of your day-to-day and to wherever she is in the wild, “Lady On A Rock” is a unique, informative, beautiful blog. Gear reviews are not merely interesting here; they are practical reports which allow the reader to evaluate whether the same gear would work for them. Reports from the field on her journeys bring fun and excitement to life. You really feel like you’re hiking right alongside her and it’s a refreshing read. There are very few writers whose posts I really look forward to reading, and this is one!
In keeping with the rules…
#1 – My answers to Rockin’s questions.
Favorite outdoor guidebook?
I grew up with one book which put the hiking hook in me; “The Complete Walker,” by Colin Fletcher. I even read lengthy passages aloud to a hiking friend, and we both smiled and enjoyed Colin’s sense of humor and exploits. Even years later the advice on many issues Colin touches on still holds true. I would also mention two books which, while not officially practical trail guides, still opened the Appalachian Trail to my thinking. The first, which I ready before my hike and which compelled me to tackle the A.T., was “Appalachian Hiker II,” by the Ed Garvey. I read it twice before my hike, and it made the impossible seem possible for me. After hiking the trail, I read “Waking With Spring,” by Earl Shaffer, a wonderful window onto the early backpacking days of the Appalachian Trail.
Why do you walk? The answer cannot be “Because I am crazy”.
Nothing strips away the gunk from my heart and soul like walking; especially in wilderness. I believe my Creator designed every aspect of the wild to draw me closer to Him. I am “called” to walk there, and when I cannot walk my life loses some of the richness and luster I think was intended for me to have. I walk to see, and to see what I see. To sharpen my perceptions, to take my place in the created dynamics of nature. Plus I simply feel exhilirated, fit, and healthy when I walk the long distances.
Having a stressful day at work? what gets you through? an outdoor experience perhaps?
Stepping outside. Breathing in…
I am a peak bagger. Do you have any recommendations?
Living in New England, I would certainly recommend Katahdin in Maine at the northern terminus of the AT. Mount Washington in New Hampshire is a challenge in any season, with weather unlike anywhere else. Being a southerner by birth, I have to nod strongly to the entire mountainous range of the Great Smokies, especially during the spring wildflower bloom in May. Just thinking of that makes me tear up.
What gets you through the last miles of a hard day besides crying? Again selfish.
That cold, clear spring waiting at the end of the day. Of course, being sentimental I am apt to cry in any case. Dressing an unexpected, deep blister is also going to do the trick!
Your favorite trail food? It would be great if you could recommend a gluten and dairy free option.
I have a few. I take along some olive oil and tabouli mix, make it up, and chill it in a spring. Great on a hot day! On some morning when my tastebuds require decadent fare, I will break out indian red corn fry bread mix. In a pinch, bannock on a stick over a fire in the evening with a spot of Irish tea is a nightime treat.
I have to ask…what are 2 of your favorite funny hiking quotes? Shamelessly selfish again. I am gathering quotes for this summer’s blog entries.
I can only offer one, but it’s memorable. When first setting out up the AT in Georgia, I met a fellow from the Boston area by name of Cronin. At a shelter one night, he was grousing about how the trail up the Georgia mountains seemed to 1) lack switchbacks (which it did!), and 2) the trail would wind this way and that so much that when you would think yourself at the summit, you were crushed to find you were not. As a result, the frustrated man coined “Cronin’s Law,” which I have used when appropriate. Here it is: “Never assume you’re at the top!”
We are all bloggers. What keeps you motivated to keep writing?
I often believe I was born then paper and pencil were tossed in my crib, so it’s in the blood. I am motivated by the hope that something I say will inspire or comfort someone, or that they will be able to relate to what I share. Plus I simply love words and the use of them.
Since I loved this question I am going to ask. How old were you when you first camped? hiked? backpacked?
Oh those thrilling days of yesteryear! At about ten years of age a friend convinced me to shoulder an army surplus backpack and hike with him into the posted land some three or four miles behind my rural home. “Farmer Brown” never discovered us, and we didn’t burn down the acreage, but we made our own trails and camped in the woods for years. Army surplus mess kits and canteens were among out equipment; cans of Spaghettios and foil packs of hamburger, potatoes, and onions were often stuffed among the coals to cook. We had a grand time! After my military stint, I got serious in the 70’s and bought a Kelty Tioga frame pack and ventured into the Uwharrie Mountains of central North Carolina, which were hilly and packed with eastern diamondback rattlers for some reason. Later I expanded my explorations into the Linville Gorge area of the Blue Ridge mountains, the Pisgah Range, and Shining Rock Wilderness. I was hooked. Later came the AT and then Vermont’s Long trail.
Who doesn’t love a good sunrise and sunset? Where have been your favorites?
I took a basecamp trek at Mount Mansfield in Vermont, where I parked my pack at Taft Lodge for a week and daypacked many of the summit trails. One August morning, cool and filled with the fragrance of conifers, I woke early and ventured outside where about eight other lodgers were sitting on an eastern-facing shelf of rock. No one said a thing, as if it might shatter the moment. Then through the reddish-gray striations of cloud on the east a striking sun broke through, crepuscular rays spitting out across the surrounding summits like lasers, and bathing our perch with golden light. I have no photo of it, but I’ve never forgotten it. It was a holy moment.
So what is your next planned adventure?
There are a number of short/long options I’m curious about doing. I might re-hike the Shenandoah National Park stretch of the AT next summer. Meanwhile, possibly a return visit to the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway which runs up the center of New Hampshire. A dream trail would be the North Country Trail, and the Great Eastern Trail has caught my attention as an AT alternative.
Rule #2 – Nominate bloggers
LADY ON A ROCK http://www.ladyonarock.com Following Rockin’s adventures will make your day! (Reverse nomination alert!)
CHASING KATAHDIN http://www.chasingkatahdin.com “Dairy Queen” is living the dream on the AT.
A FORK IN THE ROAD http://jfetig.com Yogi said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” So I’m following the white blazes.Rule (Jim Fetig)
WATERFALLS HIKER http://waterfallshiker.com Exploring the cooler, wetter side of western North Carolina.
#3 – Provide nominees with questions
What is the greatest danger/peril you have experienced or come close to?
How does your love of the wild enrich your life?
Which book, of all you have read, has affected your life the most? How?
Would you be prepared, if necessary, to provide first-aid care to another injured hiker you came across? What is the level of your skills/training in this area?
Which creature would you least like to encounter when outdoors? (Excluding humans)
What is your threshold of risk in the outdoors; i.e., would there be a circumstance, place, expedition you would say no to?
If you have just one last walk you could take, anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Which is more important to you — physical stamina or mental toughness — when outside?
What’s the most hilarious thing that has ever happened to you when outside?
What do you value most in life?
Describe your philosophy of life? Who are you? Why are you here? What legacy will you leave behind?