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    Default Hartford Advocate (CT) article on a thru-hike By Emily Weil

    "A Hike Of Her Own"


    Sex And Stalking Along The Appalachian Trail.
    August 24, 2006
    By Emily Weil
    http://www.ctnow.com/custom/nmm/hart...es-ha-advocate

    When you get out there, tell everyone that you have a boyfriend and that he is going to meet up with you,” my friend Micah advised me one frigid day in late February, a week before I flew from Boston to Georgia to begin thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. He had done the 2,200-mile trek the year before and was offering me tips on everything from what food to eat to the kind of tent to carry.

    I wasn’t listening. I was busy trying to make a stove out of aluminum beer cans that wouldn’t explode in my face or burn down the forest.

    Three months later, having hiked 1,500 miles and with 700 left to go, I was back in Micah’s Boston apartment. “I can’t get rid of this guy.”

    Micah nodded. He knew exactly what I was talking about. “I remember feeling bad for the women out there,” he said.

    It’s a cliché among hikers that there are as many ways to hike the trail as there are people who hike it. Most start at Springer Mountain in Georgia and end at Katahdin in Maine; a few start in Maine and head south. Purists walk every 2,167.1 miles of the trail marked by white rectangular blazes painted on the trees. Blue blazers take short cuts on side trails marked with blue. Yellow blazers hitchhike ahead along roads. And then there are the pink blazers. Pink blazers pursue women.

    The point of pink blazing is ambiguous, even among hikers. Is it to sleep with the woman? To harass her? To help her? In a male-dominant culture, sometimes the men — like the women — just want a female vibe. Not all pink blazers are aggressive or chauvinistic. And some women find the attention flattering, or welcome the sense of safety that comes from knowing that men are paying attention to their whereabouts. The problem with pink blazing, however, is that on the closed system of a linear trail, if a woman doesn’t want the attention, she has no escape.

    A day earlier, I had called my mother from a pay phone in Arden, N.Y. She knew that something was wrong even before I explained.

    I started to sob. It was the first time I had cried since the trip began. In the past three months, I had forded rib-high rivers, shivered — close to hypothermia — through snow- and hailstorms, gone without food and water, hitchhiked, and camped alone. I’d picked countless gnats out of my eyes, walked through lightning storms on exposed ridges, and carefully negotiated encounters with wild animals and peculiar mountain people. I was, I thought, tough.

    The next morning, my parents picked me up at the motel in upstate New York where I had stayed the night. For five days, I rested and talked things over with my family and friends. Finally, I regained enough perspective to return to the trail. Besides, I hadn’t told Uncle John — that was his trail name — when I would return. If I planned things right, he wouldn’t be able to find me again. I could finish my hike.

    I never imagined it would come to this. Back in early March, less than a week into the trip, I was sitting around a campfire with 10 men on top of Tray Mountain in Georgia. Eight more people were crammed into the shelter, either sleeping or cooking dinner from the warmth of their sleeping bags. It was so cold that there were no other options; it was fire, goose down, or freeze. We woke up to a foot of snow and frozen boots the next morning. Three people quit at the next road crossing.

    As I nudged into the ring of people surrounding the fire, a man who went by the trail name Stix spoke up. Stix was a 40-year-old former cocaine addict from Texas who had failed two previous attempts to thru-hike. “They say that men get skinny out here,” he said. “Well, I ain’t got much to lose.” He looked at me from across the fire and laughed. “But women just get thick. Why, Déjà Vu, honey, you got nothing to worry about. You’re already thick.”

    The men looked at me. I stared into the fire, embarrassed, hurt, and unsure of what to say. Finally, Easy Rider, a 24-year-old Yale-bound graduate student, broke the silence.

    “Stix, that was out of line,” he said. Turning to me, he added, “Déjà, I think you’re sexy. If you were the last woman on earth, I would sleep with you. Actually, if you even make it to Pennsylvania, I’m gonna poke you.”

    Disgust took my breath away. I turned from the circle and walked to my tent. Just before I was out of earshot, I heard another man say, “Naw, they don’t get thick so much as they get mean. The guys get skinny and the girls get mean.”

    Inside my tent, I tried to sleep, but I could only think about how I was going to deal with this humiliation all the way to Maine. At that point, I couldn’t have known that neither Stix nor Easy Rider would make it. I didn’t know that I would out-hike every man there. I only knew that I wanted to go home.

    Most people who quit thru-hiking leave the trail because it isn’t what they thought it would be. If you plan a six-month hike from the comfort of your living room, it’s hard to imagine the pain of easing frozen socks over infected blisters and the sheer misery of spending the night in a wet sleeping bag. Most of all, people underestimate the monotony of walking through the woods every single day for five or six months.

    I had anticipated the physical challenges and I knew that I could handle them. And from previous hikes, I knew that I would never get sick of the woods. I had wanted to thru-hike for 10 years, since I’d first heard about the trail when I was 13. Before I ever set foot on the trail, I was sure that I was going all the way. The woods are where I feel happy and at home.

    But I had, it seemed, completely mistaken the character of the people with whom I would share my hike. I thought that I would be among “my people,” like the exiled Duke and his subjects in As You Like It . Instead, the Appalachian Trail felt like a fraternity, where a man could be a man and the girls are left at home. There were, it seemed, no minorities or homosexuals, and very few women on the trail. I had expected progressive open minds and good karma. Instead, what I found was the status quo. Actually, it felt like the status quo might have been 50 years ago.

    I wondered for the first time if I would quit.

    The whole next day, I thought about what Stix and Easy Rider had said, and how not even one of the other men had had the balls to defend me. In fact, I thought about it for five days straight. John Milton once wrote, “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.” This is especially true on the trail, where the traditional anesthetics are not available. There is no TV, no internet, nothing to buy. There is nothing to do but walk and think. Time in the woods can be therapeutic, putting mind and body in order. Each day is simple and repetitive—get up, eat, walk 15 to 30 miles, eat, make camp, eat, go to sleep. The challenges are straightforward. You don’t have to find a meaningful job; you just have to get across the river alive. You make daily progress towards a tangible goal.

    A week later, in the Smoky Mountains, I caught up to a lanky woman with a shaved head and a tattoo on her neck. She offered me part of the Pop Tart she was devouring, and then leaned close and whispered as if the trees could hear, “If you see Snafu, don’t tell him I’m back here. I can’t shake him. I took two days off in Gatlinburg, but he waited for me. I hear he’s been hiking five-mile days so that I’ll catch up.”

    The beauty of the Appalachian Trail is that it’s not really a wilderness experience; it’s a mobile community. Like in a small town, gossip and information flow up and down the trail each time hikers meet. Everyone summits the same mountains, poops in the same privies, and hitchhikes into the same trail towns to stay in the same hostels and cheap motels. If there is someone suspicious lurking at a shelter, everyone knows about it. If someone gets hurt or sick, there will be another hiker catching up within a day or two, and probably much sooner.

    The disadvantage is that there is no anonymity. If someone wants to find you, he can. If he wants to wait for you at a shelter, he will. It is public land and you cannot make someone leave you alone. More than a few women have found themselves in the absurd position of hiding behind a rock or off the trail until their pink blazer hiked past. Hiding is, of course, only a temporary solution. The only real escape is to quit.

    I met Uncle John in Waynesboro, Va., right before heading into Shenandoah National Park. I had just summited “The Priest,” a relentless 3,000-foot elevation gain at the end of a 25-mile day. I felt radiant and excited to see other hikers in town, with whom I could swap stories and close down the local dive bar. By this point — 800 miles in — I wasn’t crawling away to my tent at the end of the day. I knew that I could hang.

    I set up my tent at the YMCA athletic fields and went to a nearby hotel where I’d heard that other hikers were staying. I walked into a room of 11 men. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I was slender and strong. My cheeks were pink; my skin was brown. Most of the men, by comparison, looked tired and skinny.

    “**** ‘em,” I thought. “These guys got nothing on me.”

    I knew them all, except one—Uncle John. “I’m Déjà Vu,” I said, introducing myself.

    “I know,” he said, smiling.

    I demolished the pizza, chicken wings and ice cream that the guys hadn’t finished, and then went to the bar with five of them, including Riff, who had hiked the AT more than seven times in a continual back and forth “yo-yo.” He always hiked with a tired black lab named Josie, whom many men said was the only good woman on the trail. The trail was Riff’s home; he thought he knew it better than anyone, and many of the young men looked to him as a guru.

    At the bar, the conversation turned to the “Shannies,” or the Shenandoah Mountains, just north of Waynesboro. For 100 miles the trail runs through the park and crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway more than 20 times. Hikers love the Shannies because there are grocery stores, restaurants and bars right along the trail. But for me, it was also a little scary. When I was hiking at high elevation, I didn’t worry about my safety. Who was going to follow me up a 6,000-foot mountain? But being so close to the road made me nervous. Historically, most crimes along the AT take place near roads. Since 1986, 12 people have been killed in the Shenandoahs. In 1996, two women — Julie Williams and Lollie Winans — were stabbed to death near Little Stony Man lookout, just off the trail.

    We all listened like obedient little children as Riff said, “Those two women were at the bar, drinking and dancing, and probably drawing a lot of attention to themselves.” He looked at me. “At the end of the night that guy just followed them right back into the woods where they were camping and slit their throats. Easy as pie.”

    When the bar closed, I sprinted back to my tent at the YMCA. At six the next morning, I thumbed a ride back to the trail. I was eager to get to the far side of the Shannies.

    A few days later, I was taking a break with Ibby — who caught up to me a little north of Waynesboro — when Uncle John showed up. Ibby hiked on while Uncle John and I had lunch in a parking lot. I was relieved to get rid of Ibby. He was a 35-year-old condominium broker who complained about day hikers, rain, food and talked incessantly about “getting her [the trail] done.” He was miserable and made me dislike hiking, too.

    As Uncle John and I talked, I learned that he was a Deadhead from Boise who hated Wal-Mart and once got fired from a delivery job for refusing to cut off his beard. I liked him immediately.

    We hiked together for the rest of the day and camped illegally at a tourist picnic area. Two days later, we were watching the sunset at Little Stony Man lookout. The day was beautiful; the spot was romantic. He leaned over and kissed me. And then it went further.

    Later, after we cooked our dinners and lay in our sleeping bags under the stars, he said, “We’re going to have a great trip to Maine.”

    I was too shocked to speak. We were going to Maine together? When did I agree to that? My hike was suddenly not my hike anymore. It was our hike. Thru-hikers are notoriously self-absorbed, and I was no exception. My hike was about me, not about us.

    The next morning, as we stuffed our sleeping bags in their sacks, I set him straight: “John, I need to talk to you about something. I’m not going to Maine with you. I do my own thing out here.”

    He smiled, indulgently it seemed, at my cute resistance. He left his sleeping bag on the ground and walked over to me. He put both hands on my shoulders and leaned down so that he was looking right into my eyes. “Listen,” he said, “I know you’re independent, but all relationships take compromise.” He added, “You’re my girl. I love you,” and — as if that were all the explanation I needed — he walked back to his sleeping bag and finished stuffing it in the sack.

    My head spun. “Isn’t he supposed to ask me how I feel about this?” I thought. Or have I just been on my own so long that I’ve become obstinate and difficult? I saw that he was packed and leaning on his trekking poles, waiting for me. My sleeping bag still hung limply from my hands.

    “John,” I said, “I’m not your girl. I’m not anyone’s girl. I came out here to hike my hike.”

    He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You’re ditching me. How can I hike like this?”

    “I’m sorry. My hike comes first.”

    John started to cry. He seemed ridiculous and melodramatic. Had I become this cold? I wanted to tell him I was sorry, if only to make myself feel better. But I held my ground.

    He looked at me angrily, wiping tears away with the back of his hand. “Easy Rider said that this is your thing. You’re sleeping your way up the trail.”

    Before I could respond, he hoisted his pack on his back, grabbed his trekking poles and stormed away.

    I sat at the camp site for a half-hour, letting Uncle John get a lead on me. In the meantime, a couple passed—the man in the lead, the woman struggling a little to keep up.

    I walked 29 miles through flat Virginia forest, skipping a resupply stop, and in the evening overtook the couple that had passed me that morning. I hiked with them for the last few miles of the day, and decided to stick with them for the night. I didn’t want to be alone.

    We arrived at a packed, all-male shelter. The vibe was hostile. Uncle John was in a corner chain smoking and snorting OxyContin. Nobody said hello to me. I could tell they had been talking. When I had a moment to talk to him alone the next day, I said, “I feel horrible.”

    “You should. Do you have any idea how many guys you’ve hurt out here? Easy Rider almost dropped off the trail. Ibby just hitchhiked north 100 miles just so that he won’t have to see you again. You can’t mess with people’s trips like that. People plan their thru-hikes for years. It just ain’t right.”

    Easy Rider — the same Yale-bound guy who “defended” me on Tray Mountain — was a hotrod. He hiked 25 to 30 miles a day and, after taking a week off for a frathouse reunion, had reappeared on the trail in southern Virginia. He immediately slowed down to my 20-mile-a-day pace. I knew Easy Rider was pink blazing me and I couldn’t shake him. When I decided to take an afternoon off and doze in the sun, he took the afternoon off, too. When I went into town for ice cream, he went, too. So, finally, I hiked with him because he was there. I shared some whiskey with him because he was there. I camped with him one night because he was there. When he invited me to sleep in his tent, I thought, “Why not? He’s here and he’s easy.”

    I used other guys to ditch Easy Rider in the same way that I used Uncle John to ditch Ibby. In fact, the only effective way to ditch a pink blazer was to cozy up to someone else. I was oblivious to men’s feelings — in the same spirit of disrespect that they had shown me since Tray Mountain — but I wasn’t looking to ruin anyone’s hike. I just didn’t care.

    “Riff is right about the girls out here,” Uncle John said. “You’re all dykes or whores.”

    There were no other women around except for an 18-year-old section hiker who let men get water for her. Suddenly, I wanted validation and approval.

    “Why don’t we hike together a little?” I ventured.

    “You gotta understand I can’t be playing games out here,” he said as if he had anticipated me. He was the victim and I, the repentant sinner. I was asking for forgiveness and he accepted.

    “If you screw me over again, I’ll have to drop off the trail and go home a failure,” he said intensely.

    And so we hiked. But it was soon clear to me that I had made a big mistake. For several days, we walked at his pace, stopping when he wanted to stop, going when he wanted to go. I hiked slower than I wanted, spent a lot of time in town, and spent more money than I had budgeted. I suspected he lounged around town and drank until he couldn’t stand up because he knew I wanted to be on the trail. He was testing my loyalty. I was hiking his hike.

    I quickly became frustrated at how people treated me when I was with John. I had proved myself, only to be undermined. One day at a shelter, a hiker told me that it was a good thing I had my boyfriend along so that he could take care of me. People constantly remarked that I was slowing him down. Never mind that I was the stronger hiker; never mind that I preferred to stay out of town; never mind that I didn’t complain about bugs and heat rash and eating bagels and peanut butter again. He got the glory. I had the supporting role. I felt like an accessory, and Uncle John could not understand why that made me angry.

    Each time I told him that we weren’t hiking together any more, he accused me of not trying hard enough. “I have worked so hard and you — you give nothing. It’s like you don’t want to make this relationship work.”

    And he was right. I didn’t want to make it work. I wanted to hike to Maine.

    All through Pennsylvania, if I hiked away, he caught up. If I slowed down, so did he. If I hid in the woods for him to pass, he questioned everyone he saw, asking for my whereabouts.

    Some days Uncle John and I hiked only three or four miles because we spent so much time “talking things out.” This usually involved me trying to ditch him, and him finding me and telling me that he loved me, but that I’d hurt him very badly. If I defended myself, we were apt to stay there all day. So finally, I learned to say, “You’re right. I’m sorry I hurt you. Can I please just hike alone for a little while?” But I couldn’t believe what I was saying. I hated having him around. I hated knowing that he was anywhere near me on the trail. I felt controlled and powerless and there was no one there to help me. For the second time during the trip, I doubted I would make it to Maine.

    Just over the border in New York, I broke down in hysterics, hitchhiked to a pay phone and called my family.

    During the week I spent at home, my mother said to me, “You know, you don’t have to go back if you don’t want to. The trail will always be there.”

    She didn’t understand. In early April, I met an old man who had thru-hiked 15 years ago. With tears streaming down his face, he told me, “The moment you summit Katahdin, I want you to think of me. I am 77 years old and hiking that trail is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

    Despite everything — the physical pain, the loneliness, the pink blazing — I, like most thru-hikers, love the trail. It becomes like a second family to some; for others it is an addiction. Year after year, people work as waiters and ski instructors so that, come spring, they can hit the trail again. Many say the hardest part about the trail is leaving it and returning to a world of sitting still, clocks and stuffy air. Summiting Katahdin, despite the initial joy, feels like getting divorced, fired and evicted on the same day.

    I told my mother that there was no way a man was going to keep me from Katahdin. I had been dreaming about a thru-hike for 10 years. Now was my time. I needed to finish.

    I surreptitiously returned to where I left off in New York, and spent a few wonderful weeks hiking and camping alone. However, I also felt like a woman on the run. If I met other hikers, I didn’t tell them my trail name. I stopped signing the shelter registers intended to help locate people in case of emergencies or danger. I camped far off the trail and avoided popular hostels. There was no drama. Thru-hiking was about the trail — the animals I saw, the swimming holes I jumped in, and the stars I slept beneath.

    By New England, though, I was exhausted. In Vermont, I was treated for Lyme disease, and shortly after I was back in the woods, I developed an allergic reaction to the medicine. The person behind me on the trail was Uncle John. He took me to the emergency room, and stayed with me while I recovered. Once I was well, my hike became a game of dodging him. His became a game of finding me.

    By the time I crossed the border into Maine — the 14th and final state — I was tired of games. Maine is 300 miles of the most beautiful, remote and difficult section of the trail. I would never be here again, 23 years old, having hiked 1,900 miles, at the end of a six-month journey.

    In Andover, I told Uncle John to **** off and that I hated him. I wasn’t going to talk anything out. I was done feeling guilty. I told everyone I met that he was harassing me. I didn’t see him again.

    This was not the end of my trouble with men. Ironically, or maybe just sadly, Uncle John and the others — and learning how to deal with them — may have kept me safe.

    As I was hiking out of Andover, 250 miles south of Katahdin, I met a southbound hiker named Stowaway. I had a brief conversation with him and then continued north while he continued south. Five days later, after three days of hurricane-induced rain, I entered the Hundred Mile Wilderness, the final stretch marked by copious rivers and no road crossings. I forded two rivers and made another small crossing, where I met Stowaway again.

    “We’ve met before,” I said. “What are you doing north of where I saw you last?”

    “I’ve been, uh, trying to figure some things out,” he replied.

    “Like which way the trail goes?”

    I saw that his hands were shaking. He told me that the next ford — Long Pond — would be very difficult, but that there was an easier place to cross upstream.

    I thanked him and watched him walk south on the trail before I continued north to Long Pond Stream. I arrived and crossed the first leg of the stream to an island in the middle. I looked across to the next shore. Where there were rocks, the rapids were noisy, fast and white. But the dangerous part was where the water was smooth. There was no way to tell how deep it was, and no guarantee that there would be rocks to brace my body against the current. I stuck a trekking pole in the water. It didn’t hit bottom and the current almost pulled me in. It was an impossible ford.

    I returned to the south bank, dropped my pack, and decided to look for the safer crossing that Stowaway had mentioned. I began to walk into the woods, but then returned to my pack, grabbed my pepper spray and knife and clipped them both to the back of my shorts.

    I walked upstream and saw that I couldn’t safely cross there, either. I decided to camp on the south bank and cross in the morning. But when I got back to where I had dropped my pack, Stowaway was standing next to it.

    “What are you doing here?” I asked impatiently. “Jesus Christ, I’m sick of this ****.”

    He looked surprised. “After you left, I got worried that you would try to ford by yourself. I came back to help you.”

    At first, I was more offended than scared. “Listen, I just walked 2,000 miles. I can decide for myself whether it’s safe to cross. Why don’t you worry about getting yourself out of Maine?”

    He walked towards me. I backed away.

    “I’m sorry,” he said. “I can see that I’m making you uncomfortable. Let me explain. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder,” he confessed. “Do you know what that is?”

    I thought of the other hikers I knew. “Yeah, I know what OCD is, and I don’t have any patience for it.”

    “Well then,” he said, taking a deep breath, “you know that some people obsessively wash their hands. What I do is obsessively worry about people hurting themselves. You have to understand that I can’t control my behavior.”

    “Listen,” I replied, “I’m really sorry that you can’t control yourself, but you have to understand that I am a woman alone in the woods. I don’t know who you are and I don’t trust you. I’ve been out here for five and a half months and you’re not the first ****ing weirdo that I’ve met. If you come any closer, I will defend myself. I will ****ing kill you.” As I said this, I felt a surge of power, confident that I could utterly destroy this man. I added, “Save your disorder for the women down in Georgia. They’re nicer.”

    Stowaway was shaking uncontrollably now. He grew apologetic and said, “What can I do to set you at ease? Let me tell you about myself…”

    I interrupted him. “There’s nothing you can do to set me at ease. Don’t even try. I’m ill at ease for a reason. There are four people behind us. We’re gonna stand right here and wait for them.”

    Stowaway looked up at the sky and then down at his watch. “It’s getting pretty late. I think that they’ll probably be staying at the last shelter.”

    I panicked, realizing that he was right. I wasn’t even certain that the four had left town that day, and if they had, it wasn’t likely they’d be coming this far.

    “Come on,” Stowaway said. “How about if I help you cross the river? That way you’ll have it between us. There’s a shelter on the other shore.”

    He took out a large coil of rope.

    “What’s the rope for?” I asked. No bona fide thru-hiker carried that kind of heavy rope.

    He looked down at it. “It’s to string a guideline across the river.”

    I looked from the rope to his eyes, and said, “I’m not going into the woods with you. We’re gonna hike south until we find people I know, even if that means walking all the way to town. Move away from my pack.”

    Keeping an eye on him, I hoisted my pack and motioned for him to take the lead on the trail. After a few minutes, he tried to talk to me. I told him to shut up and hike faster.

    After several miles, which included re-fording two rivers, we met two thru-hikers. They were bewildered to see me hiking south with a man they didn’t know, and sobbing with relief at the sight of them. Stowaway tried to explain what had happened, but was unable to articulate. He turned to me apologetically.

    As he stood there, with a broken sort of look on his face, I felt a brief surge of empathy. Maybe he wasn’t a serial rapist; maybe he was just trying to help me out. Unfortunately, I didn’t know.

    Before he turned and walked away, Stowaway said that he planned to quit his hike and go home.

    One of the thru-hikers raised his eyebrows. “Geez, Déjà. Way to drive a man off the trail.”

    A week later, on day 172, I stood on top of Katahdin, the northern terminus of the AT in Maine. I was the first hiker of the day and as I reached the top, I folded myself over the famous sign and sobbed. I couldn’t believe I actually made it.

    Years ago, when I first learned that there are people who hike 2,200 miles on the Appalachian Trail, I was awed by how difficult it would be. But the truth is, after a few weeks on the trail, your body adjusts, you settle into a rhythm, and it isn’t terribly hard. It is certainly easier than going to work every day. For me, a six-month vacation in the woods wasn’t the real victory.

    And while other thru-hikers often say that the kindness of strangers reaffirms their faith in humanity, the time to reflect makes them change their life goals, and the personal accomplishment makes them believe that they can do anything they set their minds to, my epiphanies were different. In the end, the cliché about female thru-hikers is true of me, too: I don’t believe in humanity anymore than I did before. I just got mean. ●

    Emily Weil is a travel writer and environmental journalist. She has written for Backpacker, Transitions Abroad, E/The Environmental Magazine and other publications. She is also the backwoods correspondent for www.eco-chicik.com

  2. #2
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    Geez, as well as being way too long, it's sensationalistic nonsense.

    Also, to be perfectly frank, some of the episodes she describes seem exaggerated, if not invented.

    I think the article is ridiculous, in terms of greatly over-emphasizing the "threat" to women on the Trail, and I think the paper performed a dis-service by printing it.

    While I'm sure many women would report episodes of harassment, or of hikers paying them too much attention, what the author describes here seems a bit over the top.

    It would appear that the Hartford Courant must have had a slow news day.

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    I think that would be more than enough to scare anyone who had never been on the trail.
    2005 "No Legs" Springer to Clingman's
    2007 SloFar/DrClaw - GA-NJ

  4. #4
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    She writes well, but I find it a little hard to believe that she had a string of that much trouble on a hike. Something doesn't feel quite right in that her experience doesn't appear to be shared by other young female thru-hikers, at least to this extent. It's too bad, really.

    One for the fact checkers: "I had just summited “The Priest,” a relentless 3,000-foot elevation gain at the end of a 25-mile day." -- It's only relentless if you're climbing it from the south.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

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    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Good Grief, she sleeps with several men then gets bent out of shape when they want to stick around her. Sounds like a major ego problem to me. "I'm 23 and my hike may be ruined cause men won't leave me alone." Oh, give me a break. Seems to me she brought it on herself.
    At least I know I won't have that problem. I guess there are advantages to being old, fat and ugly.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

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    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Hell now I am scared
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  7. #7
    Registered User Scott3's Avatar
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    To be fair, Jack, this was printed in the Hartford Advocate. They have no idea what any news day is like.

  8. #8

    Default Whaaaa! Whaaaaa!

    Alternate headline: The Fear-Driven Hike, or How I Failed to Understand Human Nature and Stunk Up My Life on the AT

    She writes: "... When I had a moment to talk to him alone the next day, I said, “I feel horrible.”
    "“You should. Do you have any idea how many guys you’ve hurt out here? Easy Rider almost dropped off the trail. Ibby just hitchhiked north 100 miles just so that he won’t have to see you again. You can’t mess with people’s trips like that. People plan their thru-hikes for years. It just ain’t right.”"
    ...and...
    "... So, finally, I hiked with him because he was there. I shared some whiskey with him because he was there. I camped with him one night because he was there. When he invited me to sleep in his tent, I thought, “Why not? He’s here and he’s easy.”"
    ...and...
    "I used other guys to ditch Easy Rider in the same way that I used Uncle John to ditch Ibby. In fact, the only effective way to ditch a pink blazer was to cozy up to someone else. I was oblivious to men’s feelings — in the same spirit of disrespect that they had shown me since Tray Mountain — but I wasn’t looking to ruin anyone’s hike. I just didn’t care."

    Any person -- male or female -- as inconsiderate as she was is just cultivating trouble of all sorts, on the trail or off. I'm not surprised the animosity she created in others mutated and came back to afflict her as fear. Sounds like she has trouble picking trustworthy, reliable companions and when the ones she does pick turn out to be cads, especially after she screws them over, she gets all rubbery, which she responds to with fear and then anger and then getting "mean." Sounds like she victimized herself. I met lots of women hiking the Trail who didn't have this universe of troubles.

    Sorry if I seem a little critical, but it seems like what went around, came around for Deja Vu. Is she whining about being a victim of her own choices and behavior? Seems like it. I think I dated a 20-something girl like her once...

    The last nobo 3,000-foot sustained climb before Waynesboro is the Three Ridges, not the Priest. And she says she had forded rib-deep streams before getting to Arden, N.Y.? Are there any rib-deep fords before Arden on the AT? If so, I've never found them.

    I don't expect useful news in any form of mainstream media any more. This dreck just reinforces my expectations.

  9. #9
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Was this hike this year or last year? Seems like I heard about some girl in 2005 that was jumping from hiker to hiker all the way up the trail making some guys insane. Of course that could have been just gossip. Who knows...

    Anyway, I often wonder when I hear things like this what the other side of the story is. I imagine that there is more to each of these events than she sets out, often in a relationship of any kind this is true. Yet she decided to make them all out as psycho stalkers out to "pink blaze her". But a word of wisdom I remember: "If you have been married nine times, maybe it's you"

    But I guess since she is a writer she gets to be the only POV. As weary said in another thread, don't get in an argument with people that buy ink by the barrel. Seems she will get the last word in on all of 'em.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  10. #10
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    Hey fellas, have you heard the news?
    You know that Déjà vu’s back on the trail?
    It won’t take long just watch and see
    The pink-blazin' fools on her tail.
    Her style is new but the face is the same
    As it was so long ago,
    But from her eyes, a diffrent smile
    Like that of one who knows.
    Well, its been ten days and maybe more
    Since I read in the register about you;
    The best weeks of my hike gone by,
    Here I am alone and blue.
    Some people cry and some people die
    By the wicked ways of love;
    But Ill just keep on hikin’ along
    With the grace of the lord above.
    People talkin’ all around bout the way you leave guys flat,
    I don’t care what the registers say, I know where their jive is at.
    One thing I do have on my mind, if you can clarify please do,
    Its the way you jump in another guy’s tent when I try to say hello to you!
    I try to make love, but it ain’t no use.
    Give it to me, give it!

    Hiked so hard I couldn’t unwind,
    Thirty miles today;
    Abuse my love a thousand times,
    Gonna quit the trail today.
    Heartbreaker, your time has come,
    Cant take your evil way;
    Go away,
    Heartbreaker.
    Heartbreaker!

  11. #11
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    Two points: it would seem to me that a lot of the responses to DV's article (ridiculing her, calling her a **** in so many words, minimizing or denying her feelings and experiences) does a lot to validate what she says. The very first thing anyone thinks to do, in response to this piece, is figure out what she was doing "wrong" and then blame her for it. Sounds pretty familiar.

    Second, even though I have never thru-hiked, I have also had the experience of someone on the trail attaching himself to me and refusing to take any kind of hint to back off or move along. It is not something I have ever posted about but if you think it doesn't happen, or that it's not a big deal or scary if it does, then you're wrong.

    Jane in CT

  12. #12
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    It could be true gsingjane. Never said it wasn't. But it seems odd that there are lots of women that post here with positive experiences about their hike yet one person describes it as a stalker fest.

    If a guy talked about all the tail he got on the trail and how they all turned into insane stalkers he would be taken issue with. Think about it.

    It always takes two. And if she started having issues, then she had the option to quit getting into relationships with guys on the trail. Seems like she had one with Ibby but never gets into it, then Uncle Johnny who she hung out with for a while, then one with Easy Rider, and then says she used other guys to get rid of each previous one. She even went on to have a relationship with Easy Rider who made the comment about poking her even after she said it disgusted her. If she had a problem with one relationship, how did having another, then another, then another seem a solution. Seems like that was a symptom of the problem. And before you say it, I would think a guy doing the same thing then complaining about the girls he ditched probably was responsible for everything he created.

    There are two sides to every story. I imagine some of the guys in this story are not happy either with the portrayal of them all as imbalance losers. Seems some jumped to get away from her even by her own account. Wouldn't you agree?
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  13. #13
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    This broad has issues.

  14. #14
    El Sordo
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    reminds me of two sister that i met on my section hike this Spring. a guy came to the shelter after we'd all settled in and were cooking supper over the fire and immediately sat next to them. he was asking them to fix his supper and just in general acting like they were all together. when he stepped away for a moment i asked them if he was with them. they kind of got a rueful smile on their face and said, "he thinks we are".

    he wasn't energetic enough to get up in time to leave with them the next day and apparently stayed in the shelter to avoid the rain, but i had a certain degree of sympathy for them having to deal with guys that try to hook up on the trail and don't seem to get the message. like the writer said, there's really no way to get away from these guys short of leaving the trail.

    Deja Vu may have acted somewhat unwisely, but let's be honest guys. How many of you have ever slept with a woman who meant absolutely nothing to you. Ever slip out of the house early in the morning to avoid the post coital discussion? So the boot got put on the other foot. She might want to be a little more prudent in the manner in which she scratches her itches, especially in places where the veneer of civilization gets worn a bit thin, but the guys were in the wrong assuming 'ownership' where none existed.

    this probably ought to be required reading for anyone heading out on the trail. read between the lines and there's plenty of fodder for how not to act on the trail.

  15. #15
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Exactly generoll. Two to tango. In this case we only got one side of them all.

    The guys screwed up to. Especially if they knew ahead of time she has been going from guy to guy. And especially if they thought someone like that had any interest in any long term relationship.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  16. #16

    Default

    There's a certain percentage of the male population out there, in our culture in general and on the trail. This kind of guy, if he comes across a woman (particularly one he deems "attractive") who refuses to strike up a relationship with any guys on the trail, he will call a frigid *****. If she does strike up a relationship he will call her a sl**. If you are in a certain female demographic it is impossible to win with this guy.

    I don't know just how many of these guys exist in our culture or on the trail, but I do know they are out there in far greater numbers than you would want if you set out to create an ideal society. Women know this in their bones and it is human nature that some will negotiate their way around these guys with more success than others will.

  17. #17
    ECHO ed bell's Avatar
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    Let me get this straight, she agreed to hike with him some more after she saw him snorting OxyContin? Is it just me or did she act like that was similar to sippin a cool Budweiser?
    That's my dog, Echo. He's a fine young dog.

  18. #18
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Deleted Post
    Last edited by rickb; 08-26-2006 at 10:54.

  19. #19

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    Tell the Harford Advocate Editors what you think about it.

    Group Publisher & Senior Editor:
    Janet Reynolds
    [email protected]

    Editor:
    Alistair Highet
    [email protected]
    Last edited by Smile; 08-26-2006 at 10:55.
    ad astra per aspera

  20. #20
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    She'll do you if you're a Deadhead who hates Walmart and refuses to shave for a job.

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