The A.T. is wet and cold at the same time. Mountains are frustratingly difficult to climb with a heavy pack pulling us down. So why do it?
It’s a place of perfect peace. It’s an escape from worldly problems.
The views are spectacular—at least, sometimes.
The feeling of accomplishment is incomparable.
The people you meet restore your faith in humanity.
The A.T. is not just a physical place. It’s a location in your mind that you alone create. A forever ideal outpost of dreamed imaginings. No matter how lousy it is at times, it’s still the best…as you see it.
Okay, the A.T. is a sinister disease—an addiction—a craving compulsive enough to be classified a controlled substance subject to federal law. The A.T. is a poison that once it gets into your system you can’t get rid of it. The only antidote: hike it! (193)
It’s been a good, although exhausting, day, and I’m grateful to be in this part of paradise. The night is clear. Almost moonless. Only a tiny, barely perceptible, crescent sliver of light defines the dark moon’s left edge. Standing, looking up at inky black sky with brilliant stars, I finish, turn off the little recorder, hold it in my hand, for the moment secluded in darkness. Air is soft and gentle. My headlamp lights up nearby trees and bushes. I breathe in the surroundings, beautiful and primitive, something lost to our civilized world—that only exists out here. A pleasant, tingling sensation spills through me. There is happiness almost bordering on euphoria. I feel strong, independent. I feel like yelling out: “I’m Avalanche, the damned rugged woodsman!” (123)