Nick Roman, second from left, at start of trek. He hopes to be passing 25C in Piermont by early June. Below is his letter to me, including the misspelling of my name! Note that Nick was not much of a hiker at camp, or, at least until we made him go one day. Then, beneath that is a “stream of consciousness” blog by his mother. Amusing stuff. We will keep watch over Nick and his entourage during the upcoming days.
I still can remember the day that shifted my interests. It was at Kingswood, my guide year. Never having been on a hike in any of my four previous years at Kingswood, I decided that I ought to give it a try at least once in my fifth year and last as a camper. On this day, there were no sports tournaments I wanted to play in and no activities that particularly drew my attention in Blocks A or B. One of the offerings was a day hike up Black Mountain and I decided to do it. They called the meeting for people interested outside of the kitchen and you saw me and exclaimed my name and asked if I even knew what a mountain was. On the hike, it was a gorgeous day and I found that I was very fast as a hiker and enjoyed pushing my body to the top for these beautiful views. We ate at the top of the mountain and enjoyed the sun and they said we could start going down the mountain. Me and a friend went down the opposite trail and did not discover this until about 45 minutes later and promptly had to run up the mountain and back down the other side to the frustration of the counselors. But from then on, I understood that the idea of the trail continuing was so natural to me. That one day brought so much inspiration for small hikes on the Appalachian Trail and around my area.
But at the beginning of this school year, I did a two day hike in the Shenandoah’s on the AT and had a great time and covered a great deal of distance. These two days made me want to thru-hike the AT at some point in my life and then, a few months ago, I decided that I would take a year off and try to hike the whole AT from Georgia to Maine. Another cool thing in my research was how I would come across the names of mountains from my Kingswood days like Moosilauke, Washington, and Franconia Notch. Although I never got around to doing much hiking at Kingswood, that one hike sparked an interest that has completely changed me as a person. It is amazing how your camp helped mold me as a person.
I am planning on leaving Leap Year’s Day next year from Springer hoping to finish at Katahdin before September so I can make soccer preason for Colorado College, where I will attend starting in Fall 2012. I dream of passing through the mountains near camp slightly over a year from now. The Whites, I have seen in the time since camp, are the most beautiful mountains on the east coast. I wish that I had done many more of the hikes while I attended, but hopefully I will be able to do some of them next year.
I hope camp has gone well the past two summers and that you and your family are all well.
Thanks for your emails, calls and text messages today asking how (a) the drop off at springer mountain went and (b) what I thought about Alabama. The answers are (a) one day I will laugh about this and (b) I haven’t been there yet …. See (a).
Ok, so I drove these four kids to Greenville SC yesterday. Everything goes as planned except that one of them keeps losing things which means all of us are busy looking for them and his stuff is always everywhere. But we all meet at the car at 7 am this morning as planned and i think all is under control. Because Cheese has now lost his cell phone, stuff is everywhere and I can’t fit my suitcase into the back. So I carry it to the passenger side where my son nick is standing. Cheese is hanging out the door searching for his phone. I give up, tell my son to put my suitcase into the car once Cheese moves, and put the suitcase where nick has to crawl over it to get into the car.
I return to my side of the car, finish moving AT stuff so I can get in. We then pull out and drive an easy 100 miles, then a difficult 45 miles or switching back and forth on roads with names like 121e/212w to122e/422ene to 121wsw/212 a. You get the picture.
I think this is bad enough when nick tells me that the last road is a gravel road , “but will be easy for the van and is only a couple of miles max.” (first memorable quote). Twenty miles and over one hour later, after driving on a one lane gravel road up and down switchbacks through fog so dense I can only see about five feet in front of the car, we arrive at our destination. SFS families, I will merely say that Ryan Mac’s dad apparently dropped him at the base of springer mountain and told him to hike 8 miles up to the trailhead.
The four of them jump out of the car and start running up the trail to the start of the AT, which is actually.9 miles behind us. As a reward for giving up several days to drive this crew to springer mountain, I had been given permission to hike to the trailhead with them, to take their photos and to say goodbye there. They would then hike alone to the van, remove the gear and start moving forward to Maine.
This is what we do. I hug them all goodbye, stare lovingly at Nick’s back as he heads off and sniffle as I hike along, wondering when I will see them next. The answer is of course at the van, as they are still packing their bags, discarding items and searching for Cheese’s phone. I thank them for the jars of peanut butter, the many grapefruits (memorable quote…” I guess the only stupider fruit we could have brought to the AT would have been a watermelon”), the chocolate bars, the hiking boots, and the coins which have tossed out of backpacks and left in my car. I find Cheese’s phone. AND then I realize my suitcase is NOT in the car. I yell ” Nick! ” He replies with memorable quote number three….” I never touched your suitcase.” I guess not.
SO instead of driving 1.5 hours to Chattanooga and then into Alabama, I drive back the gravel road, back the country roads and back the highway to Greenville to retrieve my suitcase. (why? I could have ditched the clothes, but i needed all the chargers and i couldnt see using the same clothes for 48 hours or dealing with shopping for more. And i had my heart set on alabama!). Memorable quote from the desk clerk….”why did you leave the suitcase standing in the parking lot??”. I then turn around and with lots of help from Cindi and Marjorie, figure out how to drive from Greenville to Chattanooga. Hours and hours later, after dealing with Atlanta rush hour and torrential Tennessee rains, I am in my B and B.
Tomorrow I go to Alabama (briefly) and then head north to Roanoke, a mere 6 hours driving as opposed to about 14. Well who knows, while I am in the neighborhood, maybe I should swing past Louisiana or Arkansas, two other States Yet to be Visited.
See you back in Bethesda … unless I need driving directions tomorrow.