May 15, 2008
Originally Published September 24, 2004
I once really enjoyed hiking and backpacking. I've walked all over the Appalachians, the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains. I've spent many a night in the middle of nowhere around a campfire. I learned to chew tobacco while hiking. I learned to carry food, clothes, shelter and whiskey for FOUR DAYS in the woods and tote 40 pounds on my back. (That's a light pack--but I had everything I needed.)
I've climbed Blood Mountain at least a dozen times. I've hiked the North Face of Naked Ground, at Joyce Kilmer, from Big Fat Gap to the top of Hangover Mountain six times. That trail is a bitch. I've followed the Art Loeb Trail all over the mountains. That was one walking sumbitch. I've had my picture taken while sitting atop a big piece of granite at the Shining Rock Wilderness in Tennessee.
I've been all over those mountains.
I can't do that anymore. I run out of gas too easily today. My idea of camping now is to walk a couple of hundred yards into the woods and find a nice, level place. Dump everything right there. Set up camp and let people day-hike if they want to. Sit around in a folding chair and look up at the mountains. Say, "I climbed you once and I could do it again, if I wanted to!" and know that you're lying.
But I DID climb them once upon a time.