Written by: Brandon "Monkey" Imp
We are one week away from our 2 month trail anniversary, and I've decided the time has come to introduce our thru-hiker friends! There are major drop-out points that we have already passed (Neels Gap, Franklin, the Smokies, Damascus). The last one is the state of Virginia in its entirety - it takes over a month to hike the 500 miles through the state, so hikers sometimes get the Virginia Blues and drop off the trail. After Virginia, though, the surviving hikers will probably make it all the way to Maine if a physical injury does not take them off the trail. Since we have passed many of the drop-out points, it is time to introduce the solid group that we have come to know and love on the trail.
Below is a list and description of thru-hikers that are in our "group" or have been "stand outs". This certainly does not include all of the friends we have made, only a select group. (If you are a thru-hiker and are not on the list, don't fret! We still love you! Catch up! *cough Kashmir and All Good cough*) Some of the thru-hikers keep a blog/journal as well. Go to www.trailjournals.com and search for their trail name.
Without further ado and in no particular order, I present 2010 thru-hikers:
Nobody - male, mid-thirties, New Orleans. Nobody is the man. A bar owner from New Orleans (check out Flanagan's Pub when you visit!), he is covered in tattoos. He had a head of hair and a full beard when we first met weeks ago, but they have since been shaved due to reveal underlying tattoos. As you may suspect, Nobody is not your typical thru-hiker. He is not an outdoors man and read no literature on the AT before he began hiking. His open, friendly, and huge personality makes him very likable and one of our closest friends on the AT. He is now taking a 9-day hiatus to visit New Orleans - Nobody, you better come back to the trail!
Prophet - male, 26, southern Indiana. We have been traveling with Prophet for the majority of our hike. Prophet is kind-hearted and always carries a positive attitude. The backstory of Prophet's life is pretty unique and interesting - he was a dancer, lived in Germany for a large portion of his childhood, and cut off part of his finger in December making a jewelry box for a girl. Prophet is in no rush to complete the trail. With such a positive attitude, I'm sure he will complete the AT.
Yianni - male, 19, outside of Boston. Yianni is another constant in our AT life. While only 19, he is mature and well-traveled for his age. Emily and Yianni are like long-lost brother and sister - they entertain each other and push each other to enjoy their AT-experience. Yianni goes by his real name - it is so unique that he preferred not to adopt a trail name. After this academic year break, he will enter as a freshman in Skidmore College in upstate New York.
Cowgirl and Kelly - female, 21, Wyoming. Kelly is Cowgirl's 2-year-old dog. Cowgirl and Kelly are the perfect pair. This will begin to sound redundant, but Cowgirl is good-natured. Her dog Kelly is probably the most well behaved dog I have ever met (and loves the attention thru-hikers give her). Cowgirl was named for her undying love of horses. Grayson Highlands is a VA park that has wild ponies - Cowgirl was in absolute heaven there. She captured a great video of a baby pony. Cowgirl was sitting on the ground filming the baby when the pony decided it wanted to play...it ran over to Cowgirl and jumped on her lap. Absolutely adorable!
Young One - male, 21, Indiana. Young One started on March 10 in the late afternoon - since the others starting that afternoon were older (Nobody, Little Brown, Moonpie, and others), they immediately gave him the name Young One. Young One is a great guy to have around. He is social and believes the three of us are hilarious/crazy. He keeps a fast pace, so we never know when we will run into him. Some of my best memories of Young One come from the Fontana Dam shelter. We all went onto the dam to watch the sunset (was not good), and ended up dancing on top of the dam for our documentary. And, when I say dance, it was like disco moves and leap frog. Later that night, a rat got caught in the shelter's mouse trap. Everybody was screaming because the rat was huge and running in circles, so Young One grabbed a boot and killed it - in his underwear.
Walking Man - male, 40's, California. Walking Man is an absolute roller coaster, and I love it! He is behind us on the trail and one of the "stand out" hikers. He is an experienced hiker, having already thru-hiked the AT and Pacific Crest Trail. He was hiking a couple hundred miles of the AT this year to train for the Continental Divide Trail (the third trail to complete the Triple Crown), but I believe he will just finish the AT again. Walking Man is a great guy to talk with - his life story is absolutely incredible. He has served in the military, gotten Masters degrees from Columbia, lived the "good life" in HI and CA, and is knowledgeable of a wide assortment of topics. We re-met in Hampton, TN. It was Emily's birthday and Kate had just passed the bar, so he showed up at the restaurant with a cake for each. Then, he took the necklace from around his neck and gave it to Emily saying, "When you make it to Katahdin, please wear this for me."
Lndwlkr/General Lee - male, 30's, Florida. Lndwlkr was one of the first friends we made on the AT. Since then, he has changed his trail name to General Lee. Lndwlkr looks like a bearded mountain man. In fact, his image was the stereotypical thru-hiker I envisioned before I came out here. Social yet soft-spoken, he keeps a fast pace and is a week ahead of us. We would run into him throughout the first few weeks, and his positive support definitely helped us keep going. We always check the shelter journals to see how he is doing, and sometimes he writes to us to say "Keep it real." We will!
iTrod aka The Doctor - male, 50's, Pennsylvania. iTrod is his trail name, but we refer to him as the Doctor. The Doctor recently retired from family practice and has been planning his AT hike for two years. The Doctor was one of our earliest friends; we keep a faster pace than him, but we hear that he is only a few days behind. He was also a great person to have around in the beginning - he is probably the most informed hiker out here. He has read all of the books and watched all of the films. He was curious about our documentary, so naturally he forced us to analyze the direction of our film.
Sonic - male, 20, Seattle. Sonic is already a success story. The largest guy out here at 6'5", he eats more than anybody else and is the fastest hiker we know (Emily hiked with him one day and they kept a similar speed - he is like a Yetti and climbed up the mountain fast, while Emily flew down the mountain and caught up). Sonic is a success story because of his openness about his prior drug and alcohol problems. He has gone to rehab involuntarily and voluntarily, and has been clean since. Because of these problems in the past, he claims that he never made a plan and followed through with it in his life - until the AT. Stepping onto Springer Mountain in Georgia was a great accomplishment for him, and he is always imagining the triumphant feeling he will have when he reaches Katahdin. If you hear yelling in the mountains, it's probably him. He often yells because he is so happy and feels so good. Sonic will definitely finish the thru-hike. If he doesn't, the world will probably end.
Little Buddha - male, 30's, home?. We met Little Buddha once. We don't expect him to remember us. Every year there seems to be one thru-hiker who sets "the pace" because they fly down the trail. This year, it is Little Buddha. We met him our first night at Springer Mountain Shelter. We told him we were beginning our thru-hike. He said we would finish. Always good to start on a positive note. Little Buddha is one of the "stand out" hikers for us.
Little Brown - male, 50's, Oregon. Little Brown has been hiking around us for the majority of our trip. He is married with kids, and decided to try his luck at completing an AT thru-hike. Like the rest of our friends out here, he is sociable, kind, and full of positive energy. He is always under the impression that the three of us will fly ahead, so he always tells us "good luck" with the hike and documentary; then, we see him again two days later. He is also very tall and a few have referred to him as a Yetti.
Moonpie - male, 40's, Virginia. Moonpie has a quick wit and we love it. His personality is laid-back and friendly, so we must constantly remind ourselves that we should not take him seriously...ever. For example, I passed Little Brown and Moonpie the morning of Grayson Highlands. I asked, "Have you seen any ponies yet?" Moonpie immediately replied, "Nope, just to jackasses." He began in the same group as Little Brown, Nobody, and Young One, so we have been seeing him the entire trail.
SofaKing - male, 30's, everywhere. SofaKing is a riot. Another guy with a huge personality, he is always thinking of a prank to pull or some way to entertain other thru-hikers. The other day he left a fake money clip in the corner of the Partnership Shelter to mess with thru-hiker heads - he called it Sofa money. He also leaves entries in shelter journals of fake interviews with celebrities; they are usually incriminating for the celebrity and a fun pick-me-up in the day. SofaKing also has a pretty wild and diverse history with relationships and jobs, so he is a good guy to have a conversation with.
Big Dipper - male, 20's, Maine. Big Dipper has been hiking around us for the past 2-3 weeks. While we do not know him as well as some other thru-hikers, I must mention him. He reminds EVERYBODY of somebody they know. He is friendly, blonde, and has legs like tree trunks. To me, he would be a perfect fit with my NJ neighbors the Dolans. To Emily, he reminds her of her younger brother Luke. He is home-bound to Maine and very fit, so I am sure he will complete the AT.
TP (Traipsing Platypus) - female, 19, Maine. We love TP. She is a young, strong, and independent woman and will be going places in her life. The Appalachian Trail has been a challenge she's wanted to overcome her entire life, so she is taking time before college to hike it. We hiked with her for quite some time until she flew ahead to meet a friend in Damascus. She is now hiking with her (Bright Eyes), who we have not met. However, Kate ran into TP the other day in town, so I think we will be reunited soon. Our meeting will probably end up like this: *screaming* WHAT???!!!?? *running tackle hug*. TP is very good natured and a wonderful person to know. I am confident she will complete the thru-hike.
Tornado - male, 19, New York. Tornado is another favorite of ours. He is young, energetic, and has a large Jew-fro. We first met when we were getting back on the trail out of Hiawassee. The three of us just acquired our trail names so I was eagerly telling him the backstories of them. He said, "My name is Tornado because I frequently lose things." Tornado hitched a ride into town. True to his character, he left his trekking poles leaning against a tree. (He got them later.) We hiked together for a while thereafter, but split after Hot Springs. Unfortunately, we have since heard that he has left the trail.