Walking through Hokkaido, and then Shikoku, Japan, in 2008, I would often pause for a quick snap of the hilarious warning signs so common along roadsides, on creek banks and electrical facilities, and at trailheads. For me, with my feeble Japanese-language skills, the seemingly infantile imagery was a useful aid in comprehending the supposed danger looming ahead.
Vermont. Les Verts Monts. The Green Mountain State. I can’t sum up hiking there any better than the mysterious Mr Hammonds, whose book I found referenced in a Vermont shelter, as described in a previous post: There is room enough for civilization in regions better fitted for it. It has no business among these mountains, these rivers and lakes, these gigantic boulders, these tangled valleys and dark mountain gorges. ~ S.H. Hammonds, ‘The Vagabond Spirit’
“To walk anti-clockwise is the Devil’s way.”~ John Merrill, ‘Turn Right at Land’s End’ Ordinarily, I’d agree with Mr Merrill — an anti-clockwise loop just feels…well, maybe not evil, but, er, wrong. I’d already walked Moreton Island clockwise, however, an undertaking of great wretchedness, so doing it the other way couldn’t be any worse.
APRIL, 2008 I start hard and early and won’t let myself pause till I’ve cleared the outer edge of Sapporo. So much frustration and worry to burn off. The city emerges as the sluggish late-winter sun crawls above the snowy peaks…
MID-DECEMBER, 2010 I exit the train reaching instinctively for my liner gloves and my goat-skin mittens. Fribourg (French for “free fort”; Freiburg in German) is on the Swiss Plateau a few hours west of Sarah’s place in Cham; it’s also several degrees colder.
I hated Boy Scouts. The organisation, the activity, not the people. Joining the Cubs wasn’t my idea, as I recall. My parents probably thought it would be good for me, get me mixing with other boys, toughen me up. I jumped at the idea: camping, knives, a cool uniform. But once I was in, I was trapped, my Saturday afternoons lost forever.
Two mountains of my acquaintance, thousands of miles apart, share the name “Cloud Catcher”, “Cloud Chaser” or “Cloud Grabber”, depending on the translations of their names. (I’ve also hiked with harmless enough-looking fellows with the trail names “Cloudkicker” and “Cloudbuster”, and read an American novel titled ‘Cloudsplitter’. Just what do these bullies have against sweet, fluffy masses of water vapour?).
Of all the hazards faced by Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers on their 2,650-plus-mile journey between the Mexican and Canadian borders — long waterless sections in rugged southern California, treacherous high passes and swollen creek crossings in the Sierra, the potential for early storms in alpine Washington — perhaps none is more dangerous than the American Breakfast.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has a new feature on their website* that allows former thru-hikers to revisit one of the highlights of their journey. For many years, hikers stopping at at ATC headquarters at the “psychological halfway point” in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia**, have been made welcome by the volunteers inside. Dumping their packs on the porch, they pose before the ATC sign for a polaroid that is labelled with trail name, dates and details and stored in a bulging album: