May 7, 2008
Starting on 08-May-2007, I’ll be “publishing” my journal from my hike of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) back in 1993. As I mentioned in an earlier post , the A.T. has been popping into my life for years. To expand on that informal list a bit:
- The nominal mid-point of the A.T., and home of the Appalachian Trail Conference headquarters, is Harpers Ferry, WV; Gommie and Dee, my mother’s mother and stepfather, lived just a few miles from Harpers Ferry, and Kim and I visited every summer of our childhood; I took a few day hikes on the A.T. with my parents as a kid, and the Blue Ridge Mountains were firmly established in my youth as idyllic scenery
- I started hiking the A.T. with the hopes that the trip would help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life; I was thinking “with my career,” which I didn’t figure out (that took another decade)
- I did figure out that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Julie
- Julie and I were engaged on Mt. Katahdin — the mountain whose peak is the northern terminus of the A.T.
- Benton is named after Benton Mackaye, the man who conceived of the A.T. in the first place
- Carson’s middle name — Baxter — comes from Baxter State Park, where Mt. Katahdin is located in Maine
- My parents’ cabin on Lake Rangeley is something they found as a result of my hike — when they started looking for a place in Maine, they asked for my input (I pointed out that my view of Maine was an awfully narrow corridor, but did comment that “Rangeley seemed nice”)
- It was in an A.T. hostel in Rangeley — no longer there — where I learned that Dee, my mother’s stepfather, had passed away; I last saw Dee — very much on the decline — when I took a few days off in Harpers Ferry, WV, which is the nominal mid-point of the A.T. and the home of the Appalachian Trail Conference headquarters
- I’ve kept, “Hiked 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine upon college graduation” as the last line on my resume for years — sufficiently low on the page that it’s not a claim of qualification, but I’ve always believed that it does two things: 1) shows that I can set a goal and accomplish it, and 2) gives the interviewer an easy topic for informal chit-chat early or late in an interview
- I’ve used “Gilligan” — my trail name — as a moniker in any number of situations, including my professional blog — Gilligan on Data
And, I can point you to friends who have seen me spout A.T. anecdotes on demand! There were a lot of people and experiences crammed into a 5-month period.
So, I’m going to look back on that experience over the coming 5 months. From an integrity-of-the-documentation standpoint, I’m planning to publish every entry exactly as it was written. I know there are a few things that are a little embarrassing in some of my thoughts — all embarrassing to me; if I find something that might be embarrassing to someone else (I don’t think there is anything, but you never know), I may selectively edit those parts out.