The fog rolled over the mountain in continuous tendrils, whipped by the wind like cream.
There was no point in wondering where you were exactly or how much farther you had to go. You could barely see beyond 60 feet anyway. We were on the Appalachian Trail headed north, and we would reach our waypoints as they emerged from mist.
I’ve hiked the A.T. about a zillion times in my life and never lived much more than maybe 30 or 40 miles from it. Today, I live less than five miles from the trailhead in Dauphin County, Pa.
I hiked a short section of it in March to get some photos and video with Michael Reardon, AKA “Bojangles” to his 2013 thru-hike brethren.
I learned of Reardon in the summer of 2013 when I interviewed his father for a story. I was always on the lookout for that interesting person or idea that I could write about here on Hooligans.
Reardon, a Harrisburg-area native, was somewhere in New England making his way toward Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the A.T. — his dad never knew exactly where he was much of the time but plotted his check-ins on a giant map — when I learned of him.
I interviewed Reardon in January. You can read my story in the forthcoming May issue of Harrisburg Magazine, as well as soon see a video about his hike on the magazine website.
Some people might be wondering, what do you bring if you’re hiking for six months over 2,000 miles? Well, glad you asked. Below is a look at the gear Bojangles took with him on his trip, as well as his perspective on how you make the weight-cutting decisions on long-distance hikes.
But gear isn’t the end-all-be-all of a hike. It’s just what helps you get through on a daily basis, and there’s even some argument to be made that all of our gadgetry is just over-complicating the process of hiking and camping anyway.
The real deal is the people you meet along the way. Like maybe four women in their 50s and older running the trail in training for something bigger (and putting our meager 2-mph pace to shame).
Or the section hiker who clues you into the trail rendezvous and party that’s supposed to take place the night after you’re destined to be off the trail. (That’s OK. They got torrential downpour and freezing temperatures the entire night, anyway.)
Or how about the father and son team who got a bomber $100 bargain for nearly $400-worth of trail gear and decided to take up backpacking on a whim? And found out they loved it.
Or the restless college grad who made it a mission to hike America’s first long-distance hiking trail, completing a dream that started with a 20-mile backpacking trip when he was just a Boy Scout.
They are far better than all the rip-stop nylon and waterproof boots in the world.