|The 34th Annual Gathering family photo (photo courtesy of Dean "Crooked Sticks" Clark)|
What an incredible time it was visiting with fellow long distance hikers and trail enthusiasts during this past weekend's 34th Annual Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association Gathering. This year's Gathering took place on the pristine grounds of Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, PA. Camping was on site on one of the recreational fields, although I must admit I took myself to the Rodeway Inn for both nights. Each day was so jam-packed full of entertaining speakers, delicious meals in the student cafeteria (everything from made-to-order sushi to pizza to salads), dancing, and general good vibes, that when I laid my head down in the evening - mind you many hikers were still going at 10 pm - I drifted off into deep sleep I hadn't experienced since I'd been on the trail.
|Marilyn Beckley of the Finger Lakes Trail (photo courtesy of Dean "Crooked Sticks" Clark)|
|The Ed Sidote bench on the Finger Lakes Trail near Pharsalia Woods Lean-to|
|Bill Cooke at his booth in true hiker form- ice cream in hand- with his book, Shades of Gray, Splashes of Color: A Thru-hike of the Colorado Trail|
|Cam Honan, trail name Swami, describing his "12 Long Walks" |
(photo courtesy of Dean "Crooked Sticks" Clark)
I too enjoyed giving two talks at the Gathering, one detailing my experience hiking the Finger Lakes Trail this past spring/summer, and another describing my two thru-hikes on the Mountains to Sea Trail in 2011 and 2014. I was thrilled to have so many attend and to share in your enthusiasm for your upcoming adventures. It was also a treat to chat with not only familiar faces who have attended previous talks of mine, but to run into folks I had hiked with on the Appalachian Trail back in 2008. And as I sat at my booth throughout the weekend I had the pleasure of hearing about so many of your thru-hiking and section-hiking plans and to pick your brains as well about various trails. My ideas continue to steep on what trail to do next and how and when, but it is events like this that contribute to my inspiration. Thank you to all for that!