There are always more stories.
A lot has happened since hiking the trail. For starters, it's been a little over a year since "Where's the Next Shelter?" was released. And what a year it's been! I've lost count of how many outfitters and hiker festivals I visited. I've been incredibly fortunate to have spent so much time this year telling stories about the trail and helping next year's batch of hikers prepare. Katie and I have been on the road (okay, mostly me) since the AT Kickoff in March and I finally stopped a month or so ago after the ALDHA gathering up in Massachusetts. I'm home now, and I'm going to sit still for a bit. It's been a while, and quite frankly, I'm out of practice.
Since I'm going to be home for a while, I'm happy to finally finish something I've been working on for a long time: The next book, which you can pre-order here. It's not a sequel. It's sort of a prequel, I suppose. I mentioned before that I've been traveling for many years, thanks to the military and a whole bunch of business travel - not just the backpacking trips. I've also known Mark and Katie for many years. They are my original trail family.
The very first thing the three of us ever did together was ridiculous. We tackled the Long Range Traverse, a high tundra in Gros Morne, Newfoundland. There are no trails and all navigation must be done by map and compass. To get to the start of the hike, you have to climb a waterfall. If you don't make it back within 24 hours of your estimated return, they send the helicopters after you.
We thought we knew what we were doing. I taught land navigation in the Marines, and Katie and I had done the Inca Trail a few years prior. As seems to be the case with much of what I try, we were in over our heads.
The Inca trip did teach us useful things though. It was the thing which ignited my smoldering ember of wanderlust. I had never seen beauty at such a massive scale. This is where I first met people who traveled all the time. I was hooked.
My next job was with a tech company that flew me to clients all over the world. It was perfect. London. Warsaw. Prague. Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Okay, maybe it wasn't "perfect", but they flew me to India and Australia and they even flew me back home when I was done!
And even before any of the three of us met, there was "The Walkaboot Kroo", that notorious gang of teenage thugs who terrorized the dimly lit streets of suburban small town western Pennsylvania in the 1980s. And by "terrorized" I mean "wandered aimlessly for hours talking about Dungeons and Dragons or what we would do if one of us ever actually kissed a girl," (You marry them and hike the Inca Trail, is what you do.)
Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail
One more thing I'm super excited about! By the time you read this, Episode #10 of the excellent podcast, "Mighty Blue on the Appalachian Trail" will be out. (Thanksgiving Day, 2016) The show is hosted by Steve Adams, a fellow 2014 hiker, who is also a talented host and interviewer. In each episode Steve interviews a hiker or someone close to the trail, and follows up with a chapter from his excellent book! So, by the time you've heard every episode, not only do you get to learn a great deal about the trail, you also get a free audio book. I recommend Episode 10 because Steve and I had a great conversation about trail life, the people who hike and why we do it. Give it a listen!
The Trail is Full of Surprises
The last thing I'd like to leave you with for now is this. It's the storytelling session I put together over the course of 2016 while visiting the various trail festivals. It's a mix of useful, practical information and fun stories. It's almost a full hour, so you might want to bookmark it for later. Or, share it with someone you know who loves the trail!