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.