Nice try Catwoman

I had, for a time, a notion that hiking the Appalachian Trail would be an amazing physical and spiritual journey and the adventure of a lifetime. But not only is it a logistical impossibility, I am, at this point in time, so hopelessly out of shape that simply thinking about the Springer Mountain approach trail leaves me gasping for breath and puts me in the mood for pizza.

What is this Appalachian Trail? Well some time ago someone thought that a 2,174 mile hiking trail running from Georgia to Maine, crossing through twelve other states along the way, with elevation changes totaling 90 miles, would be a neat idea. And each year a 1,500 to 2,500 people decide it’s such a neat idea that they are going to hike the whole thing. Generally only 20% of these people make the entire trip.

If you’ve been following this blog since olden times you may recall that I’ve actually hiked 0.0115% of the trail. And while I think that the Appalachian Trail is a neat idea, I don’t expect I’ll be taking a two-thousand mile stroll and living in a tent anytime soon. Hiking the AT vicariously is much easier. No they aren’t making a reality show (yet), rather there is a web site containing the journals of various hikers on the AT and other trails at

Every now and again, I visit this site for a glimpse into life on the trail. And this year when it occurred to me that it was about the time of year for north-bounders to begin the journey at Springer Mountain, Georgia, I pulled up trailjournals and surveyed some of the people getting ready to start their adventure.

One name in particular caught my eye: catwoman . And while I was disappointed that it wasn’t Haile Berry describing the joys of bathing naked in a cool mountain stream, my interest was piqued nevertheless. You see catwoman is a 62 year old woman from Kansas. From her first entry

Friday, January 13, 2006

I currently work for the U. S. Army as a civilian. I will retire at the end of this month and spend the rest of my time finishing preparations. I am already collecting equipment and food, dehydrating various foods, figuring out where I will be when, and keeping those that will help me informed

Right away I was pulling for catwoman. Whereas you might imagine someone who’s reached retirement age to putter around in the garden or become a bingo junky, here’s a woman that wants to hike the AT. I hope I have that much enthusiasm when I’m that age. But I was a little concerned early on after readin this entry on catwoman’s arrival at the Atlanta airport:

Monday, March 13, 2006

I kept seeing where you could take a train to the baggage area, but I thought the train was for others. That was a looong walk!

Granted that was probably a long walk, but relatively speaking like walking to the mailbox. And then the hike began the next day:

Starting Location: Springer
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The path followed a creek for a lot of the way, and I could hear a waterfall through the trees. I fell on my back twice while trying to come down some steps. The first time there was a guy behind me, but the second time I was on my own. It is not a pleasant feeling when you go down.

Oh dear. We’re not off to a good start. The last entry I read from catwoman began with “Today was a short but terrifying day”. Things didn’t look good for catwoman still I was rooting for her but I’ve been busy lately and hadn’t checked up on her progress until this evening when I read her final entry:

Starting Location: Low Gap Shelter
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I did decide to stop at Unicoi Gap. I hitched a ride with a woman who makes the trip to Hiawassee every day and always makes it a point, along with her husband, to give hikers a ride. I made arrangements for a ride back to the northernmost MARTA station in Atlanta… So this ends the trip.

So catwoman didn’t make it to Maine this time. But still she actually tried and spent nearly a week on the trail. Something I’ve only read about.

Though navigating the site is a little difficult, there are lots of interesting stories from hikers on the AT over at trailjournals. You should take a look. There are even journals by couples hiking the trail. I expect if Susie and I ever tied that, one of us might “accidentally” slip on one bluffs along the way.

So anyway, to all the hikers on the trail tonight, Good luck, I wish you all the best of luck on the way to Mount Katahdin and may you find plenty of trail magic along the way.