We all have dreams. Things we’d like to do in our lives out of the ordinary. Sometimes it’s called a “bucket list.” I consider myself quite lucky because I got to check off several items on my bucket list. When I discovered you could circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States by water it’s something I wanted to do. In 1974 and ’75 I did starting in Chicago and ending up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since I’d been very young I wanted to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. I did that in 1991. I’d also wanted to make a fairly long single-handed boat voyage, though I never yearned to sail around the world. Too damned much water. But in 1992 I bought a small, 26’ sailboat and took off for nine months and went from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico, Belize and the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and back.
Ever since he was in Boy Scouts and stood atop Mt. Kathadin in Maine and found out it was the northern terminus of the great Appalachian Trail, my brother Jeff, has wanted to hike its roughly 2,200 miles. Jeff’s son, Ken, hiked it a couple of years ago after finishing his Army enlistment which included two tours in Iraq. Right now, Jeff’s about two weeks into his trek from Georgia to Maine. He sent me some photos today and I want to share a couple with you.
I look forward to the picture of him atop Mt. Kathadin in a month or so.
(Check out the comment my brother made about this post in the comments section. His journey, if he is able to complete it, will take a lot longer than I thought.)
3 responses to “Bucket List”
Hey, from Sassafras Gap shelter just north of the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) Wesser,NC on the Appalachian Trail. Thanks for the plug on my big adventure brother. A correction on the first photo and some obscure Trail trivia. That self portrait was actually taken at Unicoi Gap on GA75 about 10 miles south of Hiawassee, GA.
When the Trail was opened in 1934 two plaques where cast and one was placed on Mount Ogalthorpe, GA which was the original southern terminus of the Trail. The southern terminus was moved to it’s current location at Springer Mtn, GA in the late 1950s because of overdevelopment around Ovelthorpe and the summit plaque was moved also. A second plaque was placed at Unicoi Gap. The plaque atop Springer was stolen and a duplicate was made from the plaque at Unicoi and placed at the summit of Springer. A long story short, the plaque on Springer is not an original and the plaque you see in the picture is the only surviving original cast in 1934.
Also, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail generally takes between 5 to 6 months. If my old knees hold out I expect to make Katahdin in Maine sometime in mid October.
Interesting stuff, Jeff. Thanks.
I was thinking last night about some of the parallels between your hike and my single-handed voyage down to Guatemala back in ’91, and some of the other cruises I made. Especially about the people you meet along the way. That’s what makes the journey worthwhile. The big difference between your hike and my trip is that on my boat I was home every night.
Wow, that’s quite an undertaking! Post an update now and then so we can follow his progress.
He says it takes five or six MONTHS to do the entire trail and expects to finish up around mid-October.
Richard, I hope you continue to post about your brother’s adventure, and, Jeff, I hope you continue to comment here. I’ve been fascinated with the Appalachian Trail for years. If we weren’t going to retire out of the country, I’d like to take a shot at it. Years ago, I met a through-walker and had the time and opportunity to draw him out and hear his stories. He had so many interesting experiences on the trail that I couldn’t begin to describe them, but there was one thing that kept coming up again and again – HUNGER. He was obsessed with food, dreamed of hams and pies and cookies, found himself recalling favorite meals as he walked along, and when he got to a town, he’d come to his senses at a table with a dozen empty plates and amazed customers and waitresses staring at him. Well, that’s what he said, but he might have been stretching the truth for the sake of the story.
There are a lot of similarities between what Jeff’s doing hiking the trail and the travels I made on the boats I ran. Going up and down the Intracoastal Waterway nearly a dozen times from Cape Cod to the Keys you’re only able to do about a hundred miles on a good day, so each night I’d either be in a marina or tucked up at anchor somewhere. One of my favorite anchorages was the Moon River of Andy Williams song fame. Of course food was never a problem, and one of the best aspects of each cruise was the people you met along the way and the little incidents that occurred. One of my favorites was coming down the Mississippi River back in ’75. There were two guys who had bought a Sears and Roebuck aluminum boat in Minnesota and were rowing it down to New Orleans. Someone in Arkansas asked them if they’d met the two girls who were canoeing down the river. They told the guys they were only a couple of days ahead of them and those two boys worked like crazy to catch up with them. Of course there were no girls in a canoe, but people in faster boats like mine kept the story going at marinas all along the line.