Once upon a time...
No, wait, this is a true story. It's about the thru hiker that we met while we were on our trek last week. (And knowing me, it'll be a long story.)
Actually, we met a few thru hikers. We met Rockamamie, a lady about my age who is doing the last bit of a thru hike, all by herself. We met a few other ladies hiking with only their dogs for company -- well behaved pets with their own backpacks. We saw a few 20 year olds, but they didn't really stop to chat; these guys are walking fast! We met a Sobo -- which is the word for a Southbound hiker, but I forget his name; And we met Rugged Shark and Son-Dance, who are Nobos -- Northbound hikers.
There is a whole culture surrounding hiking the Appalachian Trail. There are a LOT of people walking around out there. Not a lot can make the whole hike, from Georgia to Maine -- 2,178 miles... I sure couldn't. There are parts that are way more difficult than the part that I did, and you're carrying everything you need with you. It's a really huge deal.
Hikers get "trail names." Mine, our crew decided, was "Glad Tortoise" -- because I'm really slow, and because I carry a LOT of big black plastic trash bags. (Glad bags. I'd rather be the Glad tortoise than the Hefty tortoise!)
So... this is a story about Son-Dance.
I think the kids were very impressed. They were tired from canoeing, and hadn't started hiking yet. We were sitting in the little kitchen in the cabin we were starting from, and this guy walks in. When asked, he told us his trail name was "Son-Dance", and he'd started hiking in GEORGIA, and had walked ALL THE WAY TO NJ. So far. And he's headed to Maine.
Son-Dance is really named Paul Travers. He's a Nobo -- a northbound thru hiker. He started hiking the AT in April, and here it is in July. He's doing it to honor his Dad, Herm, who was a WWII vet (Pearl Harbor to Peleliu). His dad brought him hiking when he was young, and they talked about hiking the places Herm had seen as a soldier in Hawaii. They also talked about hiking the AT.
Paul's dad developed Alzheimer's, a terrible disease. To honor him, Paul has dedicated his Hike to Herm and is trying to raise $10,000 for the Alzheimer's Association. That is a serious walkathon!!!
Paul has a very nice web site, with a link for donations, if you want to check it out. The web site also has info on the books that he's written, and a link to his trail journal -- which is his blog about the AT -- and our crew is mentioned on it. Click here to read it!
I promised Son-Dance that I would try to help him publicize his hike, so please check out the web site - and if you are inclined to make donations to charity, consider supporting this. And you can pass along information about his web site, too, to get the word out. He's located at www.paultravers.com ... Thanks!