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[at-l] The Gathering According to Anna! (long!!!)
Well, I wanted to write up a really great Gathering report that would
give everyone that couldn't be there enough details to feel like they hadn't
missed anything! But, frankly, I don't know where to start!!!
First let me say that I was really nervous about going to the Gathering.
I had never been to any type of hiker event before and I really didn't know
what to expect. I was sure that everyone there would be these trail-hardened
atheletes and that my inexperience would shine thorough like a beacon!!
Well, my inexperience did shine through in a pretty serious way, but rather
then set me apart from everyone, it seemed to draw me in. On top of being
gracious about sharing their knowlege, the hikers there seemed to never tire
of talking about hiking! Well, seeing as how I never tire of hearing about
hiking....it was a weekend made in heaven! *S*
In terms of logistics.........for those of you that have never been,...
we camped out in a big giant field, while all the events were held at a
college 7-8 (?) miles away. There were 430 people there at last count, and
they were all ages. There were seminars, slide shows, and demonstrations all
day long as well as some fun stuff like a contra dance, and cliff jump. I
got the idea that newbies like me went to classes all day long while people
that had been coming longer spread out their time between going to seminars
and hanging out with people that they haven't seen in a year. I know that
there was a lot of socializing going on, but I missed it all cause I was in
class! Oh well, it gives me something to look forward to next year! :)
Here are...(in no particular order!)..............
My most favorite moments of the Gathering:
The roll call of hikes and the years they took place. This being my
first Gathering, (and, truth be told, my first hiker event at all!), this was
the one event that I had heard the most about and was the most excited about!
It was amazing!! (a word that I will have to use a lot in this email!!! )
Looking around, I tried to remember evey person that stood up so that I
could speak to them later, but that proved futile. There were just too many
of them!!! But the folks that stood up over and over were hard to miss!
Talk about amazing! I can't even imagine finishing one thru hike, and here
were people that had done tons of them!!! I will say that my favorite part
of this was the 2002 thru hikers. Was it just me or did they look just a
little wilder then everyone else?! I think it was somthing in their eyes!
And of course the tributes to Chester and Earl. Wonderful, wonderful,
Spur and Ready's PCT slide show. I had no plans to go see this! I was going
to learn how to hike 30 miles a day from Fyin' Brian! But as I was leaving
Pogs 'how to pack the perfect maildrop' seminar, she mentioned it in passing
and I just knew I had to go.
I have to tell you.....I am an AT girl. For me it has always been all about
Until their slide show! It was beautiful, it was funny, it was touching.
Now I am an AT and a PCT girl!!!! :)
Speaking of which........Pog's seminar! It was fabulous! The room was
packed (due not only to the nature of the subject, but also to the abundant
fondness that all of those hikers have for this woman! *S*), and I learned a
lot of stuff from her!
And it was great to watch the ongoinng Southbounders sitting in the front of
the class drool over the pile of food in front of them! It seems that Pog
told them that they could have any of the stuff that she bought to class and
they were excited with a capitol E!!!!
Jan's (Dutch Treat) concert outside. Not only was he great, as usual, but he
showed amazing grace under pressure when the university chimes started to
play loudly during his outdoor show. I can't imagine how he kept going, but
he was a real trooper! For those of you that have never heard him, he has a
CD out and he is really fantastic! I don't know if he ususally plays at the
Gathering or not, but if not, I hope he becomes a fixture!
Meeting Cindy Ross. Enough said! Actually........that is not enough!! I
just have to say that she has been an idol of mine for years and years and I
was a little star struck! She signed both my books and it really was the
highlight of the weekend for me!!!
Well, that....and her slide show!!! I could write chapters on this, but
instead, I will just say that she and her husband, Todd, and their two
children are incredible! They hiked the CDT over five summers using Llamas
and the resulting stories and slides were phenomenol! The greatest part of
it was seeing how close the kids got to each other and how inter-dependant
the family became. When she ended the presentation by interspersing slides
of pioneers, native americans and her family........it was just beautiful.
She tells all about it in her new book, which I am going to start as soon as
i finish this email!! :)
So now, I guess I am an AT, PCT, and CDT girl!!!
Hanging out with PawPaw!! Let's just say that you haven't lived til you have
had an 87-year old man feed you bourbon and tell you not to worry....that you
are safe cause he left his Viagra at home!!! LOL! What a character!!
Meeting all of the people from AT-L and the WH list!!! No one looked like I
thought they would!!!! And everyone was so nice!!
My most favorite people at the Gathering!!!:
This list could go on and on! For the sake of brevity, i have left out
anyone that I already knew before this Gathering, and actually, there are a
ton more people that I could have mentioned!!!!! But for now.......
Jim and Ginny- do I even need to explain this one!??! After being in many
different fields in which the experienced people want to 'pull up the ladder'
rather then help the more inexperienced, I find meeting folks like this to be
quite extraordinary!. Every single person that I met at the Gathering was
helpful beyond measure!!! Jim and Ginny....well they just epitomize this.
Waterfall- when she and Mags came up and talked to me I immediately felt like
she was a friend I had never met. (a description that I used many times this
weekend) She is extremely cool and.........she is a Southbounder! When I
think about this beautiful petite blonde woman busting thru the 100 mile
wilderness fresh off the bat during her thru hike........well, it just
reminds me of how much women hikers rock!!! :)
Denise (from the WH list)- talk about a friend you haven't met yet!!!! I
think we were sisters in a past life! :) If you get the opportunity to meet
her...jump at it! Warm, out-going and friendly...you won't be sorry!!!
Jenny- ditto!!! actually, I did meet Jenny once before when she came to a
concert that I was playing in, but since we didn't get a chance to talk much
there, I can include her in this list! She is thru hiking next year also!!
Cindy Ross. I want to be her when I grow up!
Silver Lining- smart, hysterically funny, grounded.......all of the things I
look for in a friend!! Ok, she probably ties with Alison for the coolest
person that I met there!! :)
And she has this great tradition that whenever she shares a bottle of wine
with someone, they sign the cork and she adds it to her collection. Isn't
that neat? I am going to steal that idea!!
Raven- This was cool!!!!!! I did some studio work on CD last year and
during the recording session, the topic of my hike came up. The engineer had
done a recording for a guy that was based on the AT and he gave me a copy of
it. It was Raven!!! When I saw his name tag I immediately accosted him and
told him that we had a 'six degrees of separation' thing going on! Well, it
turns out that we not only have a lot of friends in common but that he was
actually at a show I played in Michigan last spring! Talk about a small
world! I really enjoyed meeting him and hearing him sing a little!
(OT- the recording studio that we were in used to be owned by Grand Funk
Railroad and when they moved out they left a lot of stuff behind. It was
like a little rock and roll history museum!!!! Isn't that cool?!?!*G*)
Did I mention that I met Cindy Ross?!?!? :)
Solar Bear- this is one funy guy!! I volunteered to help cause I thought it
would be a good way to get to meet people and see a little bit how the
organization is run. Well, it was a good plan on both accounts! Also, I got
to meet this guy! It is a shame that he isn't on this list anymore, but
maybe one of you that knows him will forward this to him! Working for an
hour at the registration table was priceless!!! My face hurt from laughing so
Alison- another 2003 thru hiker! She and I and Daria hung out most of the
weekend and Alison probably gets the award for being the coolest person that
I met all weekend! Watch out for her next summer!
Russ, Ted, and Jan- all fellow 2003ers!!! Well, I will probably be eating
their dust all summer long next year, but at least I have faces in my head to
go along with all of those journals entries that I will be reading!! I can
personally guarantee that these three will be the most fun trio on the trail
The things that I learned at the Gathering:
Hikers are the most giving, sharing, helpful, friendly group of people that I
have ever met! I cannot tell you how many people walked up to me and handed
me their address and phone numbers and said that when I was hiking next year
to call them and that they would feed, house, shuttle me. And I cannot tell
you how many past thru hikers walked up to me and said, 'what do you want to
know, what are you having trouble with?" The amount of support from these
people was really overwhelming.
My pack is too heavy. :(
The Gathering is a hundred different things all rolled up into one!!! If any
of you read Red's Gathering report, you will notice that it doesn't even
sound like we were at the same event!!! It amazes me that we can both have
such rich, full experiences and they be so different! I think that is very
cool!!!! (except that I wish that I could have hung out at the fire some!!!
I was too tired after going to seminars all day, but I heard that they had a
I learned how to lighten up my pack!!! :)
You don't have to be planning a thru hike........or any other kind of hike to
get as much from the Gathering as I did! There are things for everyone, and
there was every type of person there that you can imagine!
There is no one piece of right equipment. Or way to do it. In short, I
learned to calm down about my gear and focus on my commitment to this hike.
This was the single most important thing that I came away from this Gathering
It doesn't matter what you do for a living, what you wear, who you know, what
color-gender-religon you are, or how bad you smell *G*..................as
long as you love hiking......you're in.
Advice for people contemplating going to a Gathering:
Go. You will be so glad that you did!
Well, as soon as i send this, I will think of more that I should have
included, but I think that this is way long enough!!! I will send
ammendments as I think of them!! Until then.........for all of the listers
that were there........thanks for helping make my first Gathering so