This spring and summer I have not one, not two, but three friends attempting to hike the entire 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. They’ve quit their jobs or taken leaves of absence, they’ve moved out of their apartments, they’ve sunk their savings into packs, gear, and Ramen noodles. They are glory-bound.
Two weeks ago I dropped one of my best friends from home, KDoe, off at the start of the trail on Springer Mountain in Georgia. It was pouring rain and the trip up the mountain and back down on a suspect gravel road with no guardrail in sight was one of the more harrowing experiences I’ve had in a while.
(Our friend, Justin, who was driving KDoe’s car, put it this way on our descent as we crept around blind corners and peered over the edge of forested cliffs that fell away into nothing but fog: “Boy, that’ll make your butthole pucker.”)
We wished young KDoe farewell and safe travels, both fearing that we should put up the “Missing” posters as soon as we got back to civilization, just to get a head start. Fortunately, KDoe has been updating the world frequently on Facebook with unbelievable pictures and hints at his adventures. Last we heard, he seems to be in Fontana Dam, North Carolina, taking a shower. I recommend you friend him here to follow his travels.
Then one of my Chicago BFFs, Brian, who I once wrote about in RedEye because I was trying to get him a date after he broke his ankle, begins his journey today. He and his girlfriend, Kelly, are going to try to do the whole enchilada as well (it should be noted that I did get Brian plenty of creepy e-mails with that column but no ladies; he met Kelly at a concert, the ungrateful jerk). After six months of watching each other bury their poops, they will no doubt be even more in love.
Brian and Kelly will be writing a blog about their time on the trail, which you can find here. An excerpt:
We're Brian and Kelly, and after 10 months of dating we've reached that inevitable we-should-hike-2,180-miles-together-for-no-apparent-reason phase of the relationship. While most couples ignore this phase, we have chosen to embrace it.
Brian's a goofball, so I bet at some point there will be some great Trail Puns ("Boy, this hike sure is try-ail-ing"... damnit, I suck at puns).
At any rate, as someone who has always had nascent, unformed longing to hike the trail, I admit I’m extremely jealous, but I want all three of them to finish. I want them to come back and make me feel terrible for spending yet another summer enjoying Chicago. Here’s to you three wonderful bastards, and here’s to quarter-life adventures.