I checked the first item off my 2014 Adventure Resolutions by reading We’re Off To See The Wilderness, The Wonderful Wilderness Of Awes: A hiker’s 2000-mile adventure journal of the Appalachian Trail by: M.E. “Postcard” Hughes. If you’re looking for a one sentence review – I thoroughly enjoyed the journey from Georgia to Maine with Postcard. If you want to know why, keep reading.
While reading this book I decided there are two types of writers that thru-hike. One, those that have never backpacked before and write a book about their life-changing experience. Two, those that know the trail like the back of their hand and write a guide book about the trail. I suppose if you include us bloggers then there are three types! Anyway, Postcard attempted to be the first type, but after two unsuccessful bids he gained the valuable experience to make the third time a charm and documented it in this journal. I feel like this painted a more realistic picture of how difficult a thru-hike truly is – more than just a stroll in the woods. Plus, in the Have More Smiles in Your Miles sections in the back Postcard gives tips and tricks for newbies and new ideas for seasoned backpackers. Considering my inability to sleep above 10,000 feet I’m going to try his Tylenol PM trick.
I’ll be honest, I’ve only been on about a quarter-mile of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and I’m more familiar with the remote backpacking in the west. I thought the differences between the styles of backpacking, terrain, and weather were captivating. Backpacking between shelters and hostels or hotels is a foreign concept to me, but if it rained out west as much as it does on the A.T. I would be on board! Postcard and friends also seemed to plan their mileage on getting to “real food,” which made me laugh when he noted that his journal was turning into a food guide of the A.T.
This book has made me seriously contemplate a thru-hike. Thru-hikes have three of my favorite things: camaraderie, aw-inspiring landscape, and well it’s just plain badass (sorry Mom, I’ll put a dollar in the swear jar). I’m not thru-hiking the A.T. though, I know I wouldn’t melt in the rain but I don’t think my spirit could handle all those clouds – plus the time commitment is not realistic for me. The Tahoe Rim Trail though, that has potential to meet those three criteria.
One of my favorite parts of the book was when Postcard finally got a good look at Mt. Katahdin and it warmed his soul. I wonder if that’s how I’ll feel when I see Mt. Whitney at the end of my John Muir Trail journey. I hope so.
As Postcard would say, “hike your own hike.”