Brother I never felt better
No, I never felt better
Boogie Pilgrim, B. Taupin
(c) 1976 Big Pig Music
When the weather gets cold, my thoughts turn to .. . hiking and camping deep in the woods. How I love to snuggle up in my Mont Bell zero degree sleeping bag. I love to walk along the trail in the cold, because the walking keeps me warm. Then, when I get to the shelter for the night, someone (not me) builds a big fire. After I’ve fired up my JetBoil stove and eaten my oh so yummy dehydrated meal, I munch on Oreos and watch the fire. Hiking burns a lot of calories, so high calorie foods like Oreos are a must.
|The “Freezeree” at thePaul Wolfe Shelter
The temperature got down to 17 degrees
Because I backpack, I can get pretty far away from civilization. There may be other people at the shelter, but other than that, I have the entire forest to myself when I hike alone, which I sometimes do. Most times, however, I hike with Buck Wild, Grass and Snow Cone.
Now, Billy and I are not on the same page when it comes to hiking and camping. He likes to hike, but his idea of roughing it is a Motel 6 without cable. So, we are planning to buy a pop up camper. It’s the perfect compromise between Billy’s need for a warm comfortable bed at night and a home-cooked meal that is not dehydrated, and my need to get outdoors and sleep in a tent. Plus pop ups are inexpensive and we can tow it with our van.
|Our next home|
I’m doing some research on them now, so I joined “Pop Up Portal”, an online community of pop up camper owners. It has so much useful information, and unlike a certain other website for AT hikers, the folks there are nice, not snarky. They don’t complain about stupid questions or tell people to “do a search before asking a question”. Yes, the same questions are going to be asked over and over again by newbies; get over yourself. But that’s not what Pop Up Portal is like.
The other day I was reading about campsites. Oh boy, here’s the downside of car and RV camping. The campsites seem to be crowded and noisy. A lot of them don’t have any kind of barrier between the sites. How is a person supposed to “get a way from it all” in an environment like that? With electricity, water, sewage and even WIFI, why bother to leave home? A lot of RV’s even carry antennas so the “camper” can watch TV. If you are going to bring your home with you, why not just stay home?
According to the forum, campsites are plagued with raging drunks, pothead teens, rednecks having marital disputes, and worse yet, jerks who cut down live trees for firewood.
|The Paul Wolfe Shelter|
No thank you, give me the Paul Wolfe Shelter any time. It doesn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing, but it is several miles from the nearest road. The only way to get there is by walking. Instead of a heated bathroom, there’s a privy up the hill that Mike S. from ODATC keeps in pristine condition. The shelter is located on a gorgeous stream with several small waterfalls, at least during the wet weather months.
|Mill Stream next to the Paul Wolfe Shelter|
|Mike’s pristine privy|
ODATC stands for the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club, which is one of the many volunteer clubs that maintain the Appalachian Trail. The AT, all 2180 miles of it, is maintained entirely by volunteers.
Anyway, if pop up camping is going to involve camping in a forest of Winnebagos, I think I will pass. I’d prefer to “boondock”, which is to camp in places without hook ups or heated bathrooms, usually in national forests. I’m hoping that as we explore the U.S. and Canada over the next few years, we will be able to camp in places like this the majority of the time.
Nothing will bring our adventure to a halt faster than a night or two next to drunks whooping and hollering until 4 a.m. On the Pop Up Portal forum, the members described campers firing up their ATVs in the middle of the night to drive to the bathrooms. And setting off fireworks for hours on end, night after night.
If I don’t get a good night’s sleep I’m crankier than usual. And my filter, which has worn thin over the years, will disappear altogether if I have to deal with a-holes. I’m likely to get myself shot by some banjo-toting hillbilly. I’m not exaggerating; some of the stories on the forum made Deliverance look like a Disney movie.
|Lead me to the Long Green Tunnel, otherwise known as the AT|
So, with that in mind, I wrote a little ditty about the AT. It goes to the tune of “Boogie Pilgrim” by Elton John. Boogie Pilgrim is my trail name. AT thru-hikers usually have trail names, which are either chosen by the hiker, or given to the hiker by other hikers in honor of something stupid the hiker did or some attribute of the hiker. Wrong Way, Lightfoot, Buck Wild and AWOL are a few examples. One guy I met was called Medicine Man because his mother, a nurse, packed him an 8 pound first aid kit. Another guy I met in the Smokies, who was from Tasmania, was called Vegamite. Then there was Snoring Sarge, whose name is self-explanatory. Nice guy, though.
Boogie Pilgrim on the AT
I hiking from south to north in a season
Up each hill and down each hill
I’m either too hot or cold or I’m freezing
Feels like I’m gonna make it, gonna make it
I’m gonna hike like Boogie Pilgrim
Hiking the AT
All kinds of weather
Down on the mail drops
Down on the side trails
It never gets easy
No it never gets easy
I hiked the trail the way I wanted
Walking on the AT every day
Sometimes I pooped and sometimes I peed
And I took a shower when I needed
But my hair got dirty, dirty, so dirty
And the hiker funk always stayed with me
Just like Boogie Pilgrim
(c) 2014 Renata Manzo