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[at-l] The Gathering - Answers and Opinions

My post on the Gathering got a few responses and some of them require
responses, but I don't have a lot of time to play with this right now so
I'm gonna hit just a few high points.  

First - and unrelated to previous posts - those who are going to the
Gathering might be interested in the "Program".  It's at
http://www.connix.com/~aldha/prog97a.htm. This is brand new and subject
to change, but it'll give you an idea of what to expect.  Our problem is
that we want to see everything - how can I do a 4-way split?

Now - a couple miscellaneous items - 

For Waldo - Wingfoot's right about the price of motels/hotels in
Hanover.  If I could afford to stay in a motel in Hanover, I'd have
enough money to be able to hike the AT again.  There are cheaper motels
10 to 20 miles away, but for most people tents are the way to go.  Not
to worry - you probably won't be spending much time in the tent anyway. 
There's  too much to see and do to be wasting time sleeping.  Personal
philosophy has always been that I can sleep all I want when I'm dead -
and I'm not dead yet - I just smell like it when I've been hiking.

As for your being a speaker - call and ask.  I've rarely seen them turn
anyone down except possibly for lack of space.  

For Will Strickland - We're using the Pur Hiker, too.  But keep in mind
that, in spite of its one year no-clog guarantee, we clogged that sucker
solid in 11 days in the Colorado highcountry.  And we weren't filtering
straight out of the streams.  YMMV.

Joe said a couple things that are important.  He's right - The
Gathering's probably not something that will make or break your hike. 
That - as he says - comes from within. I  didn't start the Trail with
the knowledge that some of you will get from the email lists, the books,
the videos - or the Gathering.  But I wish I had - it would have saved
me a lot of time, effort and pain - and definitely some money.

On the other hand, there are a couple  things he may have overlooked -
the first being that some people start the AT with no intention or great
desire to finish - and get the fire while they're out there.  Some have
the fire when they start and lose it after a week of rain, snow and
sleet. And some find it at places like the Gathering.   I spent 15 years
running a high-dollar business that was fueled by events like the
Gathering - and for a lot of people it can make a significant difference
in their belief and commitment  - in this case to climbing Katahdin the
long way - from Georgia. 

Last point - I've previously run into the "Don't give me advice unless I
ask for it" attitude.  It seems to have escaped some people that the
oldest, slowest, dumbest, most boring thruhiker alive knows more about
the Trail and how to hike it and the problems and solutions - than
nearly ALL of this years prospective thruhikers.  The message is simple
- if there's any book or person or situation that you can't learn from -
then the problem is between your ears.  Those who survive the first
couple months on the Trail are either the very lucky (a very small
minority) or those who are open and flexible and willing to learn from
others - regardless of who they are.  

Walk softly,
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