Friday, February 21, 2014

Interview with 2 Hikers

Clever Girl: What was your main inspiration for hiking the Appalachian Trail?

Whistle: All the salamanders. Well, the truth is I don't know. I hiked out West last year, and I knew that I wanted to keep doing it for as long as possible. I found out about the AT, and it was pretty long, so I figured that could work. Also, I needed 6 months to figure out how to get a job I didn't hate, and I wanted an excuse to live in the woods for 6 months. That was imperative.

Dumptruck: I wanted to live simply. I wanted to get out of New York City, and rediscover myself. I think my real inspiration for hiking the trail was to have an excuse to be in nature all the time. I love hiking and I love camping, so why not do it for 6 months?


CG: When did you decide you wanted to hike the trail?

W: When I was a small child growing up in Virginia, I thought that hiking the Appalachian Trail was just a mandatory part of life, like finishing high school and then going to college. I decided I was going to hike the AT once I was about a week and a half into already hiking the AT. Well, actually, maybe it was Pennsylvania. Wait, no, maybe... Massachusetts? Even the night before summiting Katahdin, there was a little part of me that was like "I'm not going to make it." But then there was a more powerful part of me that was like "Well, even if you don't make it tomorrow, you can still try again, and it'll still be a thru-hike."

DT: I think I first heard about it in 2004. I don't remember how I learned about it, but it had been in the back of my mind since then. I was obsessed with it. I bought the hiker guide, and I drove from Illinois out to the East Coast to hike for a week on the trail. I remember I went on CampMor and bought a cheap out of season tent and some ridiculous cook pot. That's how it started.


CG: What was the first thing you wanted to do when you got to a town?

W: Toilet, pizza, shower, sleep. Oh, and soda.

DT: Eat. Eat food I didn't have to make.


CG: What injury did you find most annoying?

DT: Does chaffing count? If not, then the strained tendon in my foot.

W: Man, the look in your eyes when you say that. I also agree with chaffing. Also, jellyfish back. Jellyfish back is when you sweat, and all the salt comes out and dries on your back, and it feels like insane, terrible electricity going all over your skin. It was the most annoying thing because it wasn't actually an injury, it just made everything awful.


CG: What was your favorite gross food that only hikers wanted to eat on a regular basis on trail, that you don't miss at all now?

W: The velveeta cheese toppers. They were these foil bags of squishy processed food product. So good.

DT: Clif Bars.

W: Eeeeewwww.


CG: What was the weirdest dream you had on trail?

W: I had a dream when we were in Massachusetts, around the 4th night we hiked with Catch. We were on the top of a tree in a giant eagle's nest. We were these giant cartoon vultures, like the ones you might see in the New Yorker. We were just squawking and squawking at each other.

DT: I would dream about food all the time. Food in soft focus, like a soap opera, with Barry Manilow playing in the background.


CG: How far were you able to launch a snot rocket? Give me average and your best achievement.

W: Average 3 feet. I think maybe 12 feet for a record.

DT: Average 4 to 6 feet. I was standing on a cliff once with the wind, so I think my record was maybe 48 feet.


CG: What is your favorite color?

W: Green.

DT: Orange? I don't know, I'm not sure I have a favorite color.

W: Also, by the way I'm colorblind. So I also really like yellow and red.


CG: Would you eat your favorite color for breakfast?

W: Yeah. What? Yeah.

DT: Nah, it'd be too citrusy.


CG: If there is a train traveling at 85 mph, and there is another train traveling at 100 mph that is 300 miles behind the first train, which train would you choose to moon?

W: I would moon them at the point of intersection. Unless my dad was on the train.

DT: I think I would moon the first one immediately, then enjoy the breeze until the 2nd one passed. It would only be 3 hours [mathematical jargon supporting his argument].

W: ....How did he do that math that quickly?

DT: [more math jargon]

W: ...Perfect.


CG: If you had the choice, what piece of nature would you most enjoy sticking in your hair and then walking into a mall?

DT: Twigs?

W: A moose. Upside down. Flailing.


CG: Do you believe in a thing called love?

DT: Yeah, Cher told me so. She doesn't lie. She just lives alone in a big empty house in California. I've been there, it was really sad.

W: I guess I just don't know anymore.


CG:  How old were you when you learned how to tie your shoes? Was this important for your hiking experience?

W: I never had shoes until I started hiking the Appalachian Trail. That's why I switched to Chaco sandals. I guess I never really learned.

DT: I think I was like 5 or 6 when I learned? I was way older than I should have been. My dad had these work boots with those metal gromits instead of regular lace holes, and he told me to try with those because they were "much easier." They were so frustrating. Sometimes when I tied my hiking boots, and they also had those metal gromits, and I would think about my Dad and his work boots.


CG:  Banana.

W: Yes, but only recently. I used to hate them.

DT: Actually this happened today. I had a banana flavored Tootsie pop. I'd never seen a banana flavored tootsie pop. I was all by myself, driving a car, and I took the lollipop out of my mouth and said to no one at all: "You know what? I like the taste of artificial bananas." And then I put it back in my mouth.

W: We learned how to make the ester to make artificial banana in organic chemistry lab, and I hated bananas, and it was the worst 4 hours of my life. I was trapped in a hot room full of nervous undergraduate chemical engineering majors, and artificial banana smell, as well as burned artificial banana. Because it was so "yummy" we got to keep little bottles of the artificial banana ester. ... it was horrible.

DT: That's brutal.


Clever Girl

1 comment:

  1. You know, I've been reading a stupid amount of AT journals and blogs the past few months, I think yours is the most consistently amusing.
    Good job.
    I get to go in 2 weeks.