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Re: [at-l] A Question

    << dfaddleton@mindspring.com wrote:
 >  I
 > was just wondering why the trail is so important to you...

I've known of thru-hiking since the mid-70's when a classmate of mine 
completed a thru-hike and an article appeared on her in the local paper. A 
thru-hike was always a really neat thing that other people did. 

Following a divorce from my first marriage, attempting a thru-hike was 
something i believed i could do (having only previously been an occasional 
day hiker). The AT is an eastern mountain range and the first nationally 
recognized long distance hiking trail so it had some history to me. It runs 
through the state i lived in (CT) and the year i decided, i knew someone out 
there hiking. Defining myself as a long distance hiker was important to me 
following my divorce....a certain "can do" and empowering notion. Beyond 
that, it's probably the most social of all hiking trails...one with a strong 
"community." This community actually differs quite a bit from the at-l or 
atml communities. For once you are out there hiking, what is said and done 
online matters far less than what is said in your year's community. 

For me, a thru-hike turned out to be not what i wanted. For me, i have since 
learned that it is exciting to have many identities beyond the one i claim as 
being a long distance hiker. {<g> Anyone want to quibble and call those 400+ 
miles in '98 NOT a long distance hiker, i'm ready for ya....only a joke, 
folks.} Ok, so not a thru-hiker, but definitely a long distance hiker and an 
annual AT section hiker. Returning in '99 for my second section (535 miles 
now completed in total) was like returning "home" for me....especially that i 
am no longer a New Englander but live in the beautiful but very different 

So now, i find being a lister here to be something i don't attend to with the 
detail i once did because my other identities (besides "long-distance hiker") 
take up more of my time. But a part of my heart belongs on that long thin 
"town" populated by scruffy trekkers who are sometimes so very different from 
the people i see in my everyday life. I became friends with the most unlikely 
people and that expanded my world to include unlikely people in the rest of 
my life. The mountains i've climbed on the AT that i'd never seen before are 
now "my" mountains in my soul, shared with others who also love them.

I love having hiked what i've hiked for who i've become, for who i've met, 
what i've overcome, what i've seen. And it still is there, waiting for any of 
us to return to love it, respect it and utilize it as each of us finds what 
it means to us as individuals and as a community.

Second Chance
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