The Trail Haters Blog: Trail Days Is A Pageant of Failure

I love it when hikers quit the Appalachian Trail. Not every hiker, of course. I love seeing people succeed in this endeavor and watching possibilities and dreams unfold is delightful. I should take greater satisfaction in this but I don’t. I follow the progress of the drunkards, the party animals, the guitar picking, yellow blazing, undisciplined donkeys that litter the southern AT, glorifying their hedonistic and cheating ways and culling unsuspecting but potentially successful thruhikers into their cult of failure.

Victory is sweet, but it feels a whole lot better standing on the back of a vanquished competitor. This week we have Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia. It’s a hiker convention of sorts, where a couple hundred thruhikers and several thousand yellow blazers convene to tell a host of lies and brag about imagined exploits. There will be vendors there to sell gear that very few people need, produced by a 13 year old Bangladeshian girl and her mother for combined $825 a month.
Beer vendors do very well. Hiker trash, (once a term of endearment for those seeking a minimalist lifestyle) descend upon Damascus to find other like minded hedonists who share their affinity for age inappropriate behavior.

Nobody has it better than me on Trail Days week. Yup, I’m sitting pretty watching all these morally and financially bankrupt souls find rides off the trail to go Woofing in Portland or whatever other nonsense that sounds intriguing to their recalcitrant souls. It’s an absolute pageant of failure.

In all seriousness, my hope and prayer is that people learn from this experience and get their asses to Katahdin. I find those predators, disguised as friends or occasionally “trail angels”, as obstacles. They impede the progress of those who have a chance to get to Maine, by introducing distractions.
The Appalachian Trail is like life. You get what you give. It can predict your life and reflect your life. If you have the discipline, the mental toughness and the good fortune there’s a excellent chance you will walk 2,000 miles to Maine. If you are a weak person in life, who regularly makes excuses for failure, accepts half measures, then those traits are likely to reveal themselves on trail. You’ll have plenty of company. The trail is ripe with yellowblazers. Take this golden opportunity to see what you are made of and to chart a different course for your life. The road to success and fulfillment is littered with “easy” detours. Avoid those and choose the hard and solitary path. It’s a narrow path you walk on trail and in life. Best of luck class of 2017.

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5 Bucket List European Hikes For The Summer

This summer I will be traversing Italy and Switzerland. Along the 4,000 km hike, my 10 year old daughter and I will be tackling some of the worlds most iconic routes in our proposed path across the countries. We will connect these hikes on our trek:

Via Francigena (Italy)
Tour du Mont Blanc (France)
Alpine Pass Route (Switzerland)
Grand Italian Trail
Grand Escursione Appeninica
GR5 (France)
Alta Via 2 (Italy)
St. Francis Way (Italy)

Beyond these long distance trails, there is a handful of shorter trails that are on my bucket list of European hikes. I’m hoping to cross these 5 hikes, ranging from a single day to a whole week off my to do list in Europe:

1. Hardergrat (Switzerland)

A long ridge hike connecting Interlaken to Brienz in Switzerland, this has been dubbed by many, the best hike in the world. It’s a hair raising one foot wide path, with 5,000′ of elevation gain along the 30km+ distance.

2. Alta Via 1 Dolomiti (Italy)

120 km hike from Belluno to Dobiacco in the Dolomites. There are some of the most breathtaking views in Europe along this route. The Alta Via 1 typically takes a week to finish.


3. Cinque Terre (Italy)

Along the Ligurian Coast of Italy, Cinque Terre (5 Lands), connects a handful of scenic villages together with a rigorous coastal path that is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Italy. The hike can be done in one exhausting day by a fit hiker.


4. Cliff Walk of Grindlewald (Switzerland)

I’m not much for heights, but this very short day hike looks spectacular!

5. Run From Sparta to Athens (Greece)

I guess some elite runners traverse the 153 miles in one day. That’s not me. I’m thinking running a marathon six days in a row seems doable.

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