Monday, July 13, 2009

The Story of the Thru Hiker named Son-Dance

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 ... Thanks!


jozien said...

Hi Glad Tortoise and Text!
I dream of being what you call a Thru Hiker. Starting here, first I would go North, (I am a Nobo at heart i guess) But eventuelly i have to turn South, dreaming on, i'll end up on the Appalachian Trail. See you there Sue! For now we practice and blog.

Sue said...

I know that you could hike the AT... the hardest part might be leaving the beautiful place you live! :)

I would definitely be a Nobo too. South gets too hot for me.

Beth said...

Hey...tell Tom he has to get into the game and get a name.

Sue said...

Beth --
Tom's lack of a name wasn't really his fault... I couldn't think of any, I started with the kids, and his daughter -- Didn't get to his name before the trip was over...

Anonymous said...

raally got caught up reading Son-Dance's blog. I always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail but too old now. I don't like the absence of toilet facilities. We did do 8 miles in Pa from Fox Gap to Wind Gap. I really understood his comments about the rocks. No exageration there.

Sue said...

Hey Mom - The first woman to thru hike the AT was a 67 year old... :D
You can do it!

The toilet thing bothers me too, but I did manage to handle it better than I thought I would.

You should section hike with me!