Bailey and I walk daily. Mostly through our neighborhood, and as often as possible a local trail. Lately we started loading our packs with all the gear we will carry. I’m sure the neighbors believe we are a little “off”, except for Tim (next door), and Larry (across the street). To an outsider it appears we are a homeless father and son wandering a subdivision without purpose, and then they see us again. And yet again on another day. Surprisingly nobody has yet to call the police to find out if we are living in the woods. Then again, we did pitch a tent in the front yard, and had our hammocks strung out for all to see, so maybe they suspect something is up.
We live in a suburb of Atlanta, mostly middle class folks. The only person we have seen that is moderately “active” in a pursuit that would be considered in our wheelhouse is a gentleman that lives a few houses down. He rides one of those racing/touring bikes. On one of our walks he told me he was training to participate in a few road races this year, and had been in the Tour de Georgia until it was cancelled a few years back. He then asked what we were doing. I told him, and then he asked the one thing we have not been asked. How will we get home?
I suppose most people are a little shocked when we tell them we plan on hiking over 2,100 miles north along the eastern U.S. It does sound daunting, and when you tell them how long it takes it becomes even more intriguing. Most people around us do not have the same “lifestyle” we do. There are not a lot of hunters or “outdoorsy” types. When we load up the truck during hunting season for an extended trip one or two neighborhood kids look at Bailey as if he were something out of a movie. A kid trusted with a rifle? That’s unusual. Normally an adolescent with a gun is up to no good. But you can tell they envy him. He is going out into the wild, and will try to harvest an animal he will end up eating. You don’t get that from your local Cub Scouts at the Methodist church. It’s a shame. I never thought of Bailey as an anomaly. He is my son, and I like doing things like that and wish I could do them more. The concept of hiking so far, and living like a vagabond in the woods, appeals to us. The planning process has not been all that difficult, because we have wandered into the woods before. The thing that is different this trip is the time and distance. We will get further and further away.
Now, we could just turn around once we reach the top of Katahdin and start hoofing it back towards Georgia. That may or may not resonate with us. I suspect it will not, and after reaching the summit we will be ready to slip back into a “normal” life. With showers, and television, internet access, a REFRIGERATOR PACKED WITH FOOD, and a bed. So how do we get home?
Awol’s AT Guide lists several options at the back of the book. If you read any of the blogs kept up by thru-hikers you will find there are a number of options. As of right now, today, we have only given the thought a glancing blow. So here are the options:
1. Michelle meets us at the entrance/exit of Baxter State Park once we summit and then come back down. We drive to a hotel, where we scrub ourselves clean, and then celebrate. We then drive home, another two-thousand or so miles, back down the east coast. That will take only a few days. The problem with this plan is time. What if we don’t make it Katahdin before she has to return to the classroom? Can she get the days off? Can we time it down to the day?
2. Take a bus from the Middle of Nowhere Maine to Boston. From Boston the options change.
A) Book a one way flight from Logan International to Atlanta. It will take a little over two hours and run around $140.00 for each of us. That’s steep for two guys that just finished living in the woods and eating crap they bought at a Dollar General for the last five months. But still, it is a preferred choice.
B) Amtrak. I really like this idea, but there is a catch. It is more expensive to ride the rails than it is to fly. A flight will cost in the area of $300.00, while a nostalgic train ride will cost about $500.00, and take longer. Two hours on a plane (which is nothing more than a mental institute in the air, with a bar) or an entire day (24 hours) on a form of transport which I am not familiar with. A train could be a mental institute with or without a bar, on tracks, for all I know.
3. Bus from Maine to Atlanta. This is the least popular, and therefor least likely. I rode a bus when I was in school, but never took one as a form of state to state transportation. We could meet some interesting people, but I think we will strike this option off the list until plans A through Y fail.
The weird thing about planning the end of the hike is that it doesn’t seem all that important. I know some people have a slight panic over it (Michelle’s mom, and maybe mine).
“How will you get our baby boy home? You need to have some sort of notion or plan!”
I think that “baby boy” will be fine. I will have to convince the transportation provider the five-foot-eleven-inch “boy” is under eighteen (and only 13) just to get the child rate. It would be fantastic if Michelle could get away, and drive all that way, so she could be there when we “did it”. I’m not convinced it would be possible. And that’s okay. This is something Bailey and I are doing, together and alone. Each of us working our way north, and then, hopefully, wondering what we learned about ourselves and each other as we get home much faster than when we left.