Braving the Elements in Shippensburg

I recently rejoined the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association after a long period of being off their rolls and went up to Shippensburg State University to attend their annual conference a couple of weekends ago.  Due to 10 inches of rain over two days, the playing field set aside for tents was looking pretty soggy, so I slept for two nights in my Subaru Forester which actually turned out to be astonishingly comfortable.  High point of the weekend for me was being called to the front of the general meeting with my old pal, Bustace, and recognized for having the oldest thru-hikes among the crowd of a few hundred people.  Seeing as how the room was packed to the gills with thru-hikers of many trails — particularly the beloved AT — I was mighty pleased to reunite with Bustace.  On my SOBO hike forty years ago, Bustace and Jim Podlesney followed me all the way down the AT.  They knew all about me, because they read my solitary musings in trail journals.  But I never knew about them until later.  In fact, I did not actually meet Eric Shallenberger (Bustace) until 35 years later — another story unto itself. Great fun being at the conference and meeting all kinds of wonderful trail folk, particularly Larry Luxenberg and Margy Schmidt, who worked with me on getting THRU in shape for publication — most likely in November.  I also enjoyed chatting with Ron Tipton, new ED of the ATC, a genuinely nice gentleman whose erudition and gentle- spirited camaraderie with the hiking crowd bode well for the ATC.  Also enjoyed spent time with Model T, Bob Peoples and lots of other true trail characters.  Baltimore Jack my favorite of the colorful characters.  I  asked him to be our guest at the Len Foote Hike Inn next time he visits Amicalola Falls so that he can do an after-dinner presentation for our guests.  For my money, Baltimore Jack is on the top of the heap of dedicated trail rats who have inculcated the AT into the very fiber of their life.  Hooray for them all!  So hang in there hiking friends.  Stay vertical, keep walking and get ready to read THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story real soon.


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