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[at-l] Questions for the Class of 98

OK - I'm curious.  

Three questions - 
1. How many 98 thruhikers are on this list? 
2. How many of you are going to the Gathering? 
3. And if  you're not going - why not? 

I've seen only one group of posts about the Gathering - and I really
don't understand why there haven't been a lot more.
Some of you are presumably going to start thruhiking the AT sometime
between January and May  98.  And most of those who start aren't gonna
make it to Katahdin.  Those who do make it will be those who are best
prepared - not equipment-wise - but mentally and emotionally, and to
some very small degree, physically.  And the best way I know to learn 
just what  it takes to finish the AT is to talk to those who have done

The email lists are one way - at-l and atml are resources that each of
the 98 wannabes should be using  to learn about the Trail and the people
and the problems and the solutions - and , yeah, even the equipment.  
But the email lists, the books and videos, the web pages can only give
information.  But the information they give is sterile - there's 
no way they can give what you'd get from live contact with real
thruhikers - and that's attitude and emotion.  There's a BIG difference
between being told on an email list that the Pur Explorer sucks swamp
water - and seeing the face of the guy who got stuck with one of them
when it broke - and hearing the anger and disgust when he talks about
it.  Or hearing about someone's best day on the Trail - or their worst. 
The personal touch is a whole lot more effective and impressive.  
There's nothing that'll give you a better handle on whether you can make
it to Katahdin than seeing 4 or 5 hundred thruhikers who have finished
over the last 25 years in one place and realizing that they're not all
much different from you.  So - how about if someone tells me where
you're gonna find that many thruhikers in one place - without the beer
and smoke and party time attitude that prevails at Trail Days?  In other
words - where you can actually talk to them and learn from them while
they're sober and happy and willing to talk. 

Where else are you gonna find slide shows and videos and workshops on
gear and attitude and a whole lot of other trail related subjects? 
Where else are you gonna find  an AT-specific 4-hour long seminar on how
to prepare for the AT - by people who have done it?  Where else are you
gonna meet people like Frank Logue and Cindy Ross and Karen Berger and
Warren Doyle  - and some of the people on at-l and atml?  

If you think you want to be a thruhiker, where else are you gonna find
out who and what we are?  And if you REALLY want to be a thruhiker,
where else are you gonna find a time and a place and a group of people
that can light a fire in your gut that can only be put out by climbing

Where else can you spend a weekend and $27 - and get all that?  There's
only one place, gang - at the Gathering. 

Now --- tell me again why you're not going. 

Walk softly,
Jim & Ginny Owen
Bald Eagle, AT-92 & 
Spirit Walker, AT-88 & 92
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