Have a Loved One Hiking the Appalachian Trail?

Lions and tigers and ...

Lions and tigers and ...

It all begins so innocently. Your precious little baby tells you her boss is mean. Then she says she's thinking of marrying the next person she meets so she'll have someone to help with the driving on her trip to Tierra del Fuego. Next Wednesday.

Your heart and mind fling you into a parental dither as you commit yourself to doing "whatever it takes" to change her mind. Ha! That's when your little Princess springs the trap!

She's going to hike the Appalachian Trail. All alone.

Your mind reels. You remember the time you wouldn't let her go to her Junior High prom with the tattooed man who ran the "smoke shop." You want to apologize for not paying for spring break in Spain.

Banjo music plays in your head and you see vivid images of flying monkeys.

She's going to hike the Appalachian Trail. All alone.

And you have no one to blame except yourself ... and her college friends, Missy, Angel and Jennifer, who led her astray.

Once you get over the initial shock, you try to bargain with her. You ask if she wants to borrow your Yugo, but it's not enough. You offer to let her get her ears pierced and have her friends over New Year's Eve for Parcheesi and that spinach dip she loves so much.

No deal. She's going to hike the Appalachian Trail. All alone.

She tells you everything will be alright. She'll be posting a journal -- something like a diary, hidden behind the mysterious walls of the "Internet" -- where you can read all about her journey. But she has no plans to tell you about sleeping in the wilderness -- for months -- with her new friends: Loser, Death Trap, Wanted and Jezebel.

You hate yourself for dissing sweet little Missy, Angel and Jennifer. You suggest having them go along on her stroll in the woods.

You vow to yourself that you will find a way to be with her EVERY STEP OF THE WAY from the comfort of your Barcalounger in the safety of your home with Bootsy the Cat on your lap.

The 2014 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

The 2014 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Never fear, devoted parent! You can experience the best parts of the Appalachian Trail, and take showers too. It'll cost you about forty bucks, but it'll be worth it.

Buy These Books

The 2014 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion -- produced by the Appalachian Trail Long Distance Hikers Association and published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy -- is compiled by hikers for hikers. There are other guides, but this has the most information and it's packed with interesting facts and helpful maps.

If your Princess says she slept at the Peters Mountain Shelter in Pennsylvania, you'll know that's where Earl Shaffer once built a shelter, but now it's in the Appalachian Trail Museum. You'll know to ask about the 300-rocks that comprise the path down to the local spring.

You can even figure out what roads she'll cross when the Appalachian Trail comes out of the woods ... so you can treat her and Death Trap to a bit of Trail Magic. You'll know where you can send care packages, bandages and extra cash by using the AT Companion.

There's no better resource for armchair hikers and concerned lovers.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail written by David Miller

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail written by David Miller

To get the feel of the trail and what it's like mile by mile, one of the best resources is AWOL on the Appalachian Trail written by nice guy and thru-hiker David "AWOL" Miller.

David describes hiking the Appalachian Trail so well, you'll want to soak your feet and gorge yourself at an all-you-can-eat buffet after the first 100 pages.

It's not a "today I awoke and wanted to be a butterfly to make tired hikers happy" kind of book. It's not a grunt and snort "guy's" book either.

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail might not inspire you to hike the 2,185.3 mile long path from Georgia to Maine. You will, however, get a profound sense of how others are called and what it takes to polish it off: 5,000,000 steps across mountains, into swamps and a final, charming jaunt through the 100-Mile-Wilderness.

David's writing carries you along the Trail with its ups and downs in elevation and emotion. Most of us will probably never follow in David's footsteps. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail will give us most of the experience and none of the blisters.

David also wrote The A.T. Guide -- A Handbook for Hiking the Appalachian Trail. Many thru-hikers prefer its pithy brevity and slightly smaller size. As I read AWOL, I could almost hear David writing the A.T. Guide when he was frustrated by data missing from the resources he used.

These two books will help put your heart and mind at ease as you think of your loved ones on the Appalachian Trail.

My beloved youngest daughter once told me she was going to South Korea -- for a year -- to teach English. We both survived. That same adventurous child spent several months in Australia. The day she got to the airport to fly home, she decided to stay another three months. We both survived.

Your loved ones will survive the Trail. So will you. Share their journey.

Be there with them and be there for them by investing a few dollars and delightful hours reading The 2014 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion and AWOL on the Appalachian Trail.

Click Here for The 2014 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers' Companion

Click Here for AWOL on the Appalachian Trail


Tags: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, and News

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.