The Appalachian Trail attracts all walks of life. Why? Because you don't have to be a rocket scientist to walk it. In fact, most people that attempt a thru-hike have no experience in backpacking, hiking, or camping. The trail is covered with signs directing you where to sleep, where to get water, where to get soda and snickers, and where to go to the bathroom. All you really need (aside from a little time and money) is an adventurous spirit, an open mind, and a basic understanding of the English language.
Because of the AT's simplicity, all kinds of people walk this trail --- gay or straight, rich or poor, male or female, rural or urban, southern or northern . . . except for one group: MINORITIES.
Where are they???????????
Brandon, Emily, and I are used to living in America's melting pot. We have friends of all races and backgrounds, and the opportunity to talk to people of different cultures has shaped who we are as people. So as much as I love the diversity of people on the AT, the lack of minorities has been infuriating.
I see the Appalachian Trail as the Utopian version of what America could be. A place where complete strangers take time to say hello. A place where people help one another without hidden agenda. A place where natural beauty is intertwined with towns rich in history and character. A place where a tattoo-covered bartender can find common ground with an ex-marine.
Sometimes I think the experiences we have on this trail are magical, but it saddens me that to this point, it has not been shared with the breadth of people that live in America. Maybe, through word of mouth and enough publicity, this flaw will give way to a better Utopia.