Day 34: Portraits of Fellow Hikers

Publish date: May 22, 2019

You meet a lot of different people with different motivations on the trail. Here are a few people I’ve met so far:

Godspeed graduated high school a semester early, and is now hiking the AT. He’s taking a break later on to take his girlfriend to prom. Whenever he meets a thru-hiker they usually respond, “I’ve heard of you!” I’m not sure whether he’s best known for his age, cool demeanor, or for performing CPR on a man suffering a heart attack on Clingman’s Dome.

I don’t know this next guy’s name, but he’s an older man in his sixties with Parkinson’s. He pushes big miles. I’ve seen him hiking before, essentially jogging when he can, hands shaking. What’s most impressive is his ability to complete camp chores, such as using a camp stove and setting up a tent. Last time I saw him, he was teaching Godspeed breathing exercises.

Memorial is on a mission. A man in his mid-forties, he has never backpacked before, yet he pushes more miles than anyone I’ve met. In fact, he’s lonely because he rarely sees the same face twice. In town, he buys drinks for anyone he recognizes. It was his wife who wanted to hike the AT, not him. When asked why he’s in a hurry, he holds up the rosary beads hanging around his neck and says, “I need to deliver this to Katahdin.” In one logbook he wrote, “in memory of Jenny Schneider.”