Editor’s note: This is an abridged reprint (with Jim’s permission) of an email from Jim Heaney sent during his “through-hike” of the Appalachian Trail.
It is customary on the Trail to lose one’s “real world” identity and assume a “Trail handle,” a nickname for the duration of one’s hike. One can either pick their own up front, or wait until they do something stupid and have one assigned by their companions. I chose the latter, assuming it would be weeks or even months before I got a name. It took four days. The details are uninportant; if you wish to find me this summer, you may ask if anyone has seen or come across Mothman.
I stayed the night in this town—in fact, in exactly the motel (Mull’s) that Bill Bryson and his friend stayed in, from his book “A Walk in the Woods”—with Fatman and Peanut last night, to hit a laundry and an all-you-can-eat. Our stuff is drying as I speak, and then we’re hoping to hike all the way into North Carolina today (it’s short of 9 miles from here).
So far, the trip has consisted of three straight days of rain and fog (I have a journal entry that reads “There is no clean. There is no dry. There is only wet and dirty”), followed by five straight days of beautiful, 70s and, except for today, cloudless weather. Georgia is a state where, if there is a mountain in front of you, you will go up and down it; other states tend to more climb up a mountain, then hike along ridges, which is much easier (I assume).
I’ve stayed indoors two nights so far, one in a hostel and then last night in the motel, and have met a whole bunch of great people—there are “Trail angels” who wait at road crossings with coolers of Cokes, and one family set up a huge cookout for all to attend aboutsix miles south of here. I have more blisters than toes, but generally am holding up, and glad that I’m eating my way through some of my pack’s food weight.
How are things in the real world? I hear the war is going well.
Shoutout to ESS (nee EDCAPS), my former IBM project which has been awarded continuing work with the Department of Education.
Shoutout to the Suspicious Cheese Lords (http://www.cheeselords.org), who are in the middle of their Holy Week performance schedule at the Franciscan Monastery in NE DC. Our CD will soon be featured on NPR’s Millenium of Music, I think I remember at the end of April. Check your local listings.
More later. Sounds like I might get internet access somewhere in the Nantahala forest in North Carolina.
Hope all are well,
I mean Mothman