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[CDT-L] The ALDHA Gathering

Wow!!!  I've been to 7 Gatherings now - and this was the best so far. I
think I say that every year, but for me, it'll be hard to top this one. 

Beau can confirm some of these numbers later, but the total attendance
was almost 500. The total number of "Listers" was 88 - and I know at
least 3 who didn't register as listers with Beau. That means that nearly
20% of the attendees are on one or more of the email lists (at-l, pct-l,
ATML, ADT-L, etc.) 

Ginny and I didn't get to meet all of the "Listers" - and I'm sorry we
didn't.  But we had a specific purpose in going to the Gathering this
year - to collect specific information for our CDT thruhike next year. 
And we did.  We got information on trail conditions, dealing with the
NPS bureaucracy, water sources, maps, snow conditions, weather,
navigation and a hundred other details that can make or break a
thruhike.  We talked to the people who had walked the CDT this year and
last, we saw slide shows and pictures, and we talked to some of the
people who'll be out there with us next year. 

The main thrust of ALDHA is the AT, and that comes through very clearly
in everything we do, but the annual Gathering, and the annual Gathering
of our sister organization, ALDHA-W, are the only two places you can go
to get this kind of specific, up-to-date, face-to-face information about
the major long-distance trails. Yeah - ATC and PCTA and Trailplace can
give you a lot of information - but if you want the reality of what a
trail is - and isn't - then you need to talk to those who have done it. 
And the Gatherings are where you'll find that kind of information.  

That applies to the AT too, gang.  If you're gonna thruhike the AT in
the future, you need to plan on going to one of the Gatherings before
that time. This weekend there were 2 workshops specifically aimed at
those who are future AT thruhikers, there were 2 AT slide shows and a
whole raft of other related workshops and slide shows.  There were 2
workshops just on lightweight backpacking.  And o.d. Coyote's AT slide
show was one of the highlights of the weekend.  And I don't mean to put
Steve Newman or "Walkin' Jim" Stolz down, because they were both just

We had the best PCT and CDT workshops that I've ever seen. When you get 
advice from 3 or 4 - or a dozen people who have done a trail (some of
whom just finished the week before), you just can't get any better
information than that.   

Was there more?  Believe it.  But I'll let some of the others tell you
about their experiences.  C'mon, Solar Bear, what got you excited
(besides the hiker babes)??   

Seriously - it was really good to get some faces to put with the names.
Hang around for a while - come back next year - it'll be a lot less
confusing. We won't be there, but there are a lot of people that you can
learn from and laugh with and share experiences with.  If you want to
see what you missed this year, the program for last weekend is at
http://www.aldha.org.  But now you'll have to wait until next year to
get that kind of information.  

The Gatherings are for past thruhikers ---- but they're also for future
thruhikers and section hikers and dreamers - and for those who want to
find out if these people are really that crazy (they are).  

Ginny and I had an absolutely super weekend - we learned a lot of what
we need to know for next year, we met some great people, we laughed a
lot (and cried a little), we met a lot of old friends - and a lot of new
ones, we got seriously motivated for next year --- and totally
exhausted. Maybe it's best that we won't be there next year - I'm not
sure we'll be rested enough by then to handle it. :-)

We also talked to people who were at the West Coast Gathering last
weekend - and it was just as good as this weekend.  But there were only
70 people there - where were the rest of the serious hikers on the West
Coast?  Where were the people who intend to thruhike the PCT next year? 
If you weren't there, then you missed a really good weekend - and a lot
of information.  It's great to get information on the lists - but it's a
whole different world and it takes on a lot more reality when you get it
in person from someone who's been there.  

Finally - for those who are interested - Earl Shaffer summited Katahdin
on Wednesday.  He still had about 150 miles to walk, but needed to skip
to Katahdin because they may have to close the mountain because of
weather before he would have gotten there.  So now he's gone back to
finish the rest of the Trail. I think maybe another week or 10 days for
him to finish. We KNOW he was on Katahdin because Gutsy and Dan went up
Katahdin with him and then stopped at the Gathering to tell us. For
those few who don't know, Earl was the first AT thruhiker in 1948.  He's
now 80 years old (he had his 80th on the Trail) and he's doing a 50-year
anniversary thruhike. 

I'm gonna cross-post this to all 3 lists - because there are people on
all 3 who are interested and because there are people on all 3 who need
to know about the Gatherings - and attend them.  

Walk softly,

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