Hikers in this Forum may be interested in hiking stories about two brothers hiking together, which I (Jerry/Ho) did with my brother (Bob/Hum) for 10 years on both the Appalachian Trail and Vermont’s Long Trail. Here is a link to our journal entitled
Hiking With Hum -- Ten Years of Brothers Ho & Hum Hiking Together”:

The journal includes little vignettes illustrating Hum’s many humorous eccentricities, sketches of the fascinating people we meet on the trail, and “learnings” such as Ho’s spiritual encounter and Hum’s clever new services he concocts.

The Introduction is attached below FYI.

Jerry/Ho & Bob/Hum

Hiking With Hum – Ten Years of Brothers Ho & Hum Hiking Together


My brother Hum (Bob Ash, trail name “Hum”) and I (Jerry Ash, trail name “Ho”) identify ourselves on the trail as “Geezer Hikers Ho & Hum”, because we are just that: geezers and quite Ho-Hum. Over the 10-year period of hiking together my geezerly age goes from 67 to 77 and Hum’s from 69 to 79. Here I present our 10 annual hiking journals, from 2009 to 2019, first on Vermont’s Long Trail (LT) and then on the Appalachian Trail (AT). Our daring and challenging exploits, especially for geezers, represent a grand total of over 1000 miles of hiking or 100 miles every year, over four million steps or 400,000 steps every year, and over 220 thousand feet of climbing or two Mt. Everest’s every year.

This is a story of brotherly banter, sharing, bonding, and boisterous guffawing that broke the silence of the trails we hiked. A major focal point is on my lovable brother Hum, whose unique personality, gigantic laugh, wonderful sense of humor, and boundless eccentricities provide ample fodder for me to illustrate these traits with little vignettes arising from our hiking. Hum sometimes retaliates, but as the author I have more control and take unfair advantage of my opportunity to make lite of my brother Hum.

Few brothers have done what we did and created such a lasting bond. We went from backpacking novices to seasoned experts. We handled a huge number of daily problems, climbed never ending mountains, and survived countless rain storms. We are thankful to the people who built the AT and many shelters we slept in, to “AWOL” for writing the excellent guidebook we always used, and for having GPS to find remote parking lots and trailheads.

A second focal point is on savoring the company of diverse, interesting, and friendly people we meet along the way. We will never forget the vivid interactions with the whole gang of fellow hikers for their priceless individuality. Hum especially enjoys meeting other hikers on the trail and engaging in his abundant and very entertaining storytelling. It is the best part of hiking according to Hum and I mostly agree with him on that except for my golden opportunity to engage in major brotherly kidding.

We meet so many interesting hikers with unique trail names and a story to go with every one of them. We share stories of Windtalker, Mom, Downhill, Laser Legs, Zhivago, Funk, Cool Shoes, Zephyr, Runner, Bleemus, Canadian Geese, Ottawa Lou, PoiBoy, Black Eagle, Nips & Shoop, and so many others we tell about. Windtalker, for example, is an accomplished musician who plays his Native American Flute each night at sunset, making sounds that are like heaven in the wilderness - haunting music, mountains, stars, and all that silence. Nips & Shoop are young sisters who write in one shelter journal that “[we] like to parade around with [our] shirt off, [and] ‘roam the forests’ in the altogether! No one was around so we discarded our human forms and allowed our true woodland goddess spirits to roam the forests and waterfalls for some time. Man it feels good to be naked.” Cool Shoes is a very outgoing, middle age black woman, with an infectious and explosive laugh that rivals Hum’s trademark explosive laugh. She tells a story about meeting up with Warren Doyle, an AT legend who has hiked the AT 10 times or more, and speaks of him a little irreverently. She says that when he saw her on the trail he just looked strangely at her, as if, she interprets, “he had never seen a lone black woman hiking the AT”, she says with her trademark booming laugh.

A final focal point is on the learning drawn from the trail. In the silences there is lots of time to think and reflect and for the mind to wander all over the place, somewhat like prayer, of loved ones, life’s blessings, the better person I want to be, and unbounded thanks for the love in my life. These thoughts are time-shared and intermingled with the constant mental gyrations of planning next steps, and together they are like parallel paths --spiritual and physical paths – being traced out together through the wilderness. I do much thinking about a book I am writing about questions such as “who am I” and along the way I have a powerful spiritual experience where I encounter “KE-GOD” and understand how KE-GOD talks to me through the “Sea-of-Glory”. Hum does much thinking about the clever new services he invents, which not only benefit us but many other hikers we meet on the trail and all of humanity for that matter.

Highly personal events enter this saga. On February 4, 2015 Hum’s wife Pat dies tragically after suffering a terrible accident. And then on May 3, 2019 my son Stephen succumbs in only three short months to an extremely aggressive brain cancer. Hiking together helps us both face the terrible tragic loss and immense never-ending pain with mutual loving support.

Of course I already knew that Hum has a unique personality, a huge guffaw for a laugh, and so much else over the 60+ years of our being brothers. But I learn a lot of new things about my brother that I did not already know. Like how great he is at navigation, how completely he thinks things through before deciding anything, how completely honest he is with himself and others, and how Hum’s storytelling is one of his strengths. I learn from hearing countless Humberto stories that there is a certain “Humberto style”. Hum usually knows what he is talking about but sometimes he does not: in those cases he resorts to “Humberto pronouncements” to fill in the gaps.

I learn about the highly prized “Humberto Services” that he demonstrates so proudly and skillfully on our hikes:

· Humberto’s ETA service: Humberto declares well in advance the exact time that we will arrive at our destination. This is always accurate to within plus or minus one microsecond. No one knows how Hum does it.
· Humberto’s warning service: Humberto warns other hikers we meet of all the hazards they will encounter in the next few miles on the trail: impassable mud pit ahead; dense fog ahead with zero visibility; very aggressive white-faced hornets ahead; 3000’ straight-up climb ahead; impassable downed tree ahead; and other perhaps near-fatal hazards. One pair of hikers who we encountered several times and received several Humberto warnings finally said “you always give us bad news!”
· Humberto’s charm service: Upon meeting a young, pretty hiker who is hiking alone, Humberto turns on the maximum charm, demonstrating how debonair Humberto is and how handsome Humberto is and what a wonderful conversationalist Humberto is. This usually delays our hike at least 30 minutes and perhaps more than one hour.
· Humberto’s wisdom service: If Humberto hears any question, any question at all, or some problem needing a solution, Humberto immediately provides a complete and 100% correct answer. Sometimes Hum shares his vast knowledge unprompted on virtually any topic, at length, leaving out no details or important facts. After such valuable learnings, one can only say as brother Ray often does “Humberto has spoken, so be it!” No one knows where Hum obtained this seemingly infinite store of knowledge, but luckily Humberto is willing to freely and generously share his knowledge with me and all the other hikers we meet.

Quite seriously, Hum’s knowledge and wisdom, sense of humor, good nature, and booming laugh are joys to behold. I have treasured these joys my whole life. My brother is kind, honest, friendly, and joking. Much like our father, Hum is a “generous cheapskate” in that he is extremely careful and conservative with spending his money but when he does spend his money the sky is the limit. That’s my wonderful brother Hum.

Our hikes together have been one of the most memorable and exciting and rewarding parts of my life, all thanks to my Big Brother Hum. Our final hike together -- 13.4 miles over very rugged North Carolina terrain with 3500’ of mountains to climb -- encapsulates the whole of our 10-year journey together. We both felt triumphant at that final hiking achievement and in fact became a metaphor for our whole time hiking together.

I am glad to celebrate these wonderful years of Ho & Hum together and pray that in the years to come we will continue to share the love, laughter, and brotherly uniqueness that we have so enjoyed.