Saturday, April 30, 2011

Letters from the Trail

While I was gone, I wanted to keep a journal in an attempt to remember my trip. I also wanted to keep in touch with my girlfriend, and so we decided to write each other. It was nice to spend a few minutes each night in my tent writing what had happened during the day, and it was always a treat to be able to read her letters when I couldn't talk on the phone. The postal service has a great system where you can send a letter care of "general delivery" to any town, and you can show up at that post office, give ID, and get a letter without having to have a mailing address or PO box - This was also the method I used to receive food where a post office was readily available, but no grocery store. It was awesome to go into a town knowing there was a letter waiting for me, and I usually waited to read it until I was back out in the woods.

Since this is an art blog, I wanted to throw up examples of the times I was able to be creative. Mostly this involved quick silly drawings, but I also came up with tuneless "songs" I would compose in my head while I walked. This was a great way to stave off boredom, and it meant that I was mumbling under my breath (an improvement over talking to imaginary friends or singing as if I was in the shower). Below, for example, is a rap I came up with.

The Food Bag Rap

A food bag, as you can probably guess, is a bag that you keep a few days worth of food in and hang every night out of reach of animals. Mine was always monstrous, since I'm diabetic and was always afraid of running out of food. Also I was constantly hungry because I was burning more calories than I could put in. So below is my rap in defense of the size of my food bag. A few notes of explanation: Peter Pan refers to the peanut butter brand, and Ray Jardine is a self proclaimed guru of ultra-light hiking. Warning to the sensitive: I imply, at one point, that I receive fellatio from a mascot of a hot chocolate company.

My Worst Day

One night I got said food bag stuck in a tree. You always sling it over a branch, above the height where bears can reach, and this time it got wedged between the branch and trunk. I finally got it down, but I had to cut the rope. That wasn't so bad, but it was also pouring all day, and my insulin pump died on me, which was the cause of no small amount of panic.

The Half Gallon Challenge

About halfway through is Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania, and by that time you've built up a ravenous appetite that can never be satisfied. There is a tradition of stopping by a small park general store and attempting to eat a half gallon of ice cream within an hour. I failed horribly. I didn't even get halfway into mine. Below, from the best of my memory, is how it transpired.

Side Show

In New York there is the town of Bear Mountain, and there is a small zoo that the trail actually leads through. It was fun, but I felt more like an attraction than a guest. The writing explains:


I met a lot of interesting people, and I met a lot of crazy people. Most of the other thru-hikers tended to be more sane than the people in towns or day hikers, though. My favorite is I guy I met somewhere in New England that stood in my path and talked at me for a long, long time:

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