View Full Version : A Friend of Bill W.

01-22-2005, 18:47
Hey there, i'm looking for another friend of Bill W. who has thru-hiked to give me some advice on making it the whole way.
email me at catfishonrye@aol.com

01-22-2005, 18:48
oops.. only email address, i meant catfishonrye@yahoo.com...

01-22-2005, 22:24
I assume you are using one of the many codewords for AA.

This is cool. You are among many friends and a few who ought to be your friend.

This would be a good thread to have on the WB site, rather than go private from the git-go. There is no need to do a Step 4 here, or otherwise tell more about yourself than necessary.

Are you looking for information on AA meetings along the trail? Ideas of how to deal with those of us who drink on the trail? Strategies of dealing with those craves?

01-22-2005, 23:21
i have section hiked from springer mt ga to dalton mass from may 2001 to may 2004,been sober since oct 26 1994,travel lightly for sure:sun neo


01-23-2005, 00:56
ya, orangebug i agree and I definately don't mind talking in the open, but wanted to provide my info for those who would rather keep it to themselves, a decision i totally respect. I guess more than anything, i'm looking for others "experience, strength, and hope." i know that as long as i look, there are meetings everywhere. i've read a few threads and some articles here and elsewhere that make me wary as to the amount of alcohol use there is, particularly with people my age- not that i'm naive to the culture- i am a college student after all, and few people my age are in recovery- but how much serious partying really goes on, and what are some of other AA's coping strategies? just think i should know what i'm diving into...

Rocks 'n Roots
01-23-2005, 01:11
The Trail can be somewhat of a party place with people grouping up into beer nomads.

The thing about the AT is it is always easy to head up the trail alone and meet up with others. The AT is a good place to be sober because the experience is great enough to take your mind off bad habits. The fresh air and exercise cause sort of a natural high. Also, the extertion can be so demanding that you're too miserable to notice. Temptation could be high if you group up with the wrong people. The routine of the Trail can be a good way of focusing on something else and getting out of bad habits...

01-23-2005, 01:26
just think i should know what i'm diving into...

First of all, you'll be diving into one of the most amazing and accepting communities that you could ever imagine. You will meet and become friends with people whom you would never have met, muchless taken the time to speak with if you had.

As for the party, it is there and will affect your hike whether you partake or not. I had the misfortune of finding that out first hand and far too late. I began my 03' hike with the intention of avoiding the festivities, suceeded for a month and then gave in. I can't say that nothing good came of it, because I wouldn't be with my wife if I hadn't. However the incident which occurred later has become an albatross for both myself and the trail community.

I think you'll find more than enough folks on the trail who will be all too happy to spend time with you away from the temptations which some of us need to avoid. My wife and I will be hiking this year, feel free to come and sit by our fire.

01-23-2005, 01:46

Are you planning on thru-hiiking? I'm the same age as you and I hiked 2 yrs ago. There was a bit of partying, but it was pretty minimal, definately nothing that would get in the way of your trail experience. In actuality most of the hikers my age didn't seem to drink much (especially the underagers) and the heaviest drinkers were the mid 20's-30's crowd. There weren't really parties per say, and most of the bar scene was only for the first few weeks. After that less serious hikers who only wanted to party dropped out.

My advice would be to start early, like in late february or early march. This would give you some slack to allow for you to take zero days or extra town time to attend meetings (I'm sure there are meetings in most towns). Also from what I've observed (this is kind of a generalization I admit) but the heavier party crowd generally starts later, in april.
The small group of hikers I was around for the majority of the trip would drink a beer now and again in town, but everyone's goal was to hike the trail, not get drunk. Getting blitzed often slows you down tremendously from putting miles in and moving. Not to say you've got to rush and avoid towns, but they can certainly suck you in.
I'd also recommend maybe staying in hostels over motels when you can. Most hostels that I can think of are drink free and most hikers sharing motel rooms would buy beer.
I would avoid staying at the Doyle in Duncannon PA and skipping Trail Days would be advisable as well. Some might dissagree here, but thats just my 2 cents.

Good luck with everything and know you've got a supportive community out there for you.

01-23-2005, 04:47
Hey there, i'm looking for another friend of Bill W. who has thru-hiked to give me some advice on making it the whole way.
email me at catfishonrye@aol.com============================== ===============================

I've been a member in good standing since March 23, 1981. I live in Pearisburg, right on the Trail. There is a meeting every night either here or in other Giles County towns, such as Narrows, Newport and Rich Creek.

I'll be happy to take any hiker to a meeting. My number is 540-921-1184.


Lone Wolf
01-23-2005, 07:15
You either drink or you do not drink. It's all about choices.

01-23-2005, 08:15
The world is not binary. There are all sorts of levels of drinking and abstinence, as well as levels of ability to control one's demons.

01-23-2005, 10:52
I'm a drunk who hasn't had a drink in 20 years. Getting sober was harder (for me) than hiking the AT, and the trail was not easy. I didn't go to any meetings during my hike, but I don't attend meetings any longer. Staying sober is not a struggle anymore. Drinking is simply not a choice for me.

There was a lot of drinking and toking going on in 2000. If you feel uneasy, you might want to minimize your town stays, and avoid the party groups that tend to form. Trail Days might be something else to avoid, as it is more of a party scene than the ALDHA Gathering.

If you do the research now, you could probably find a meeting near most of the major towns along the trail. AA got me sober. I know it works.

Good luck. Have a great hike!

01-23-2005, 12:11
You either drink or you do not drink. It's all about choices.

Hey didnt GEORGE JONES sing about that?

01-26-2005, 19:40
heres' a story I wrote a few years ago for the AT-L that someone liked enough to add to their site.


its a jungle out there!


Jack Tarlin
01-26-2005, 20:24

One possible idea: If you get the chance, try and attend the annual hiker get-together called "the Gathering" which is held every October. (see www.aldha.org) Every year at the Gathering, there is an AA meeting which I think would be a great opportunity to meet past and future thru-hikers who no longer drink.

And Mowgli is right, finding meetings in major towns should not be a problem, altho you might have to adjust your hiking schedule so you can arrive on the right day. But all of the larger trail towns have regular meetings---for example there are several good ones in Hanover and Norwich); I'm sure, with a little research, you could get more information. I'd look at the following places as good possibilities:

1. Hiawassee
2. Franklin
3. Gatlinburg
4. Hot Springs
5. Erwin
6. Damascus (or nearby Abingdon)
7. Pearisburg
8. Waynesboro
9. Front Royal
10. Harpers Ferry
11. Duncannon
12. Delaware Water Gap
13. Vernon
14. Pawling
15. Kent
16. Salisbury
17. Great Barrington
18. Williamstown
19. Bennington
20. Manchester Center
21. Norwich
22. Hanover
23. Gorham

That's just off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many others. Another idea: Let folks (like Whiteblaze folks for example) know what you hiking schedule and itinerary is; lots of the Whiteblaze family lives near the Trail, either in or very close to Trail towns, and I bet you'll find folks willing to help you get to meetings as you make your way North. (And they'll most likely get you cleaned up and fed, too, which is an added bonus!)

In re. to your concerns about excessive drinking on the Trail, yes, it certainly exists, but as others have pointed out, it's often concentrated or highlighted at certain specific events or locations, which are avoidable. Also, many of the finest places to stay on the Trail---Kincora hostel, the church-run hostels in Damascus, Pearisburg, Vernon----are alcohol-free, as well as other places like Greymoor Monastery in New York. And most of the hard-core partiers aren't around for very long; they either burn out, lose interest in hiking, or more often, run out of money before they get too far. And the more notorious partiers of every hiking year tend to bunch up and people know who they are, so they're fairly easy to stay away from.

On the physical Trail itself, there is not as much drinking as you might think; there's much more pot on the Trail than liquor. Except for packing a few beers out of town with them every once in awhile, most folks find booze is too heavy to deal with, although some hikers, like myself, are either willing to put up with the additional pack weight, or are unwilling or incapable of going without. But this is relatively rare. And while many hikers carry flasks with them, you seldom see people drinking to excess on the physical Trail itself, tho sometimes there are parties at shelters or campsites that are located close to roads or towns. However, most excessive drinking takes place in trail towns, either at pubs or in motel rooms, and as other folks have pointed out, the pubs are avoidable, and most of the Trail motels and hostels are pretty good about keeping things from getting out of hand. For that matter, shelters and established campsites are easily avoidable, too....one is not compelled to stay at them, except in a very few places like the Smokies.

Mountain Dew
01-27-2005, 00:49
Tom Levarde, who runs a hostel in Dalton, Mass, took a hiker I knew in '03 to AA meetings for free. Oh and his "hostel" is free as well.

01-27-2005, 09:51
The Trail can be somewhat of a party place with people grouping up into beer nomads.
First, I am totally "OK" with "Friends Of Bill". In my 20's & 30's it was probably an issue. Went cold-turkey for over ten years and now enjoy a beer or two without problem.

But, I got a SCREAMING LAUGH - ROFLMAO - over the term "BEER NOMADS"...!

Never heard that before; but, is something I am going to steal and use until someone punches me...<g>....!!! It is so eloquently descriptive....!!!

Look there, Zeb! Those folks going down off the trail towards town...!!! Must be some of those BEER NOMADS....

Well, I was looking forward to cooking out of the rain & sleet in the shelter tonight; but, seems the BEER NOMADS have wandered in....

"Lost" Tribes of North America on CNN Tonight! The BEER NOMADS!

Internal 7-11 Memo: "Profit Opportunities - Understanding BEER NOMADS"

Miller Brewing introduces new "UltraLight" for BEER NOMADS - "Less grams per buzz for the weight conscious beer lover!"

Someone stop me...<g>....!

Happy Trails,


Lucy Lulu
01-27-2005, 13:22

Funny!:clap :clap

01-27-2005, 15:10
Hey there, i'm looking for another friend of Bill W. who has thru-hiked to give me some advice on making it the whole way.
email me at catfishonrye@aol.com
The scene may have changed, but at least in 1993 there was very little "public" drinking on the trail and at the trail shelters and campsites. A few of us imbibed an ounce or two in the evening. But it was rarely passed around. I always figured that those who wanted it would, and should, carry their own. I didn't consider it a necessity that demanded sharing, or even that sharing was even wise for reason catfishonrye alludes to.

The partying, that people talk about, then at least, occurred almost exclusively in the towns and occasionally at shelters, located just off the road crossings.

If I had an admitted drinking problem, I would avoid joining groups that indulge, at least while in towns. The two places where I saw public abuse of alcohol by hikers were one weekend in Damascus and during my stay at Rusty's. But I was among the oldest people on the trail that year and didn't get to many kid parties.

I remember vividly, however, how Rusty worked with one kid and kept him sober on the kid's birthday, talked to the kid's parents, and tried generally to be helpful. But the kid eventually fell off the wagon and eventually from the trail.


The Eleven
01-27-2005, 15:17
Hey dude, friend of Bill's here.....I section hike the trail (have been doing since I got sober in 91). Good Luck with the thru. Alot of info has been given to you, take what you need and store the rest. I might just run into you on the trail (god willing, will be doing the rest of VT and breaking into PA), anycase, if I were in your shoes, the first thing I would do is call every state and obtain a meeting schedule book for the towns that the trail goes thru or near, that has meetings. Might want to use a payphone in a town for a taxi ride to a meeting if it is far away from trail, then ask someone from the meeting for a ride back or tent in there backyard, shower up and get ride back in the morning. People in general are more than willing to help. Bring Literature (ultralight material) with you. Pray. See if a sober buddy can go with you. Bring phone numbers (cell?) (payphone?). Latch onto non-drinkers (ask if they party, no need to explain why). You'll be OK as long as you use the tools and stay focused on the wonderful, life changing experience, (sound familiar?).....journey of a lifetime. When you get to Connecticut, and you need help with anything let me know. Email me at keristeven@netzero.com and I will give you my phone numbers. Call anytime! Happy Trails! Little Bear 2 in CT