Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Foreshadowing

Written by: Katherine 'Ringleader' Imp

"I find myself hanging out at REI."

Yianni Stoner. Talk about blast from the past. 19-yr-old Yianni is the only thru-hiker we've met that refused to adopt a trail name. We met him during the first half of our thru-hike and got to know him quite well. He got off the trail in the Shenandoahs because the "green tunnel" wasn't quenching his thirst for outdoor adventure. Instead, he planned a new trip -- hike the John Muir trail in California. Prophet, another fellow thru-hiker who has been hiking with us for awhile, decided to go with Yianni to California. Thus, the Traveling Circus got to meet up with Yianni a few days ago when he came to pick up Prophet from the trail.

When we asked Yianni about his return to civilization, he responded with the sentence above: I find myself hanging out at REI.

On the one hand, picturing Yianni lurking around REI is priceless. Talking about gear, food, and the trail with customers. Haha. I'm sure they all thought he worked there.

On the other hand, what does this say about our return? Have we become so accustomed to this lifestyle that we will have trouble assimilating back to our previous lives? Will I have to get a part-time job at REI to satisfy my craving to talk about gear, food, and miles?

Emily, Brandon, and I rarely think about our transition back to society. But Yianni gave us a huge wake-up call.

I remember telling people about this trip before we began. I got it down to a few sentences, kind of like an elevator pitch: I'm graduating law school early so I can hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine with my friend Emily and my brother Brandon.

It was easy to form an elevator pitch before the trip, but what will I say to people when they ask: How was your trip?

Can I really answer this question with an elevator pitch? Will anyone really understand what I'm talking about? Am I going to feel ostracized from the life I left behind?

I have no idea what to expect upon my return to civilization. Thru-hiking is a lifestyle. And while most believe that the adventure ends on Katahdin, my guess is that the transition home will be just as daunting as some of the insane climbs we've done on the Appalachian Trail. Nevertheless, I look forward to cherishing 5 months of memories and sharing those memories with whoever chooses to listen...


  1. Haha, that is so funny that you thought of an elevator pitch. I used to get so frustrated living in Australia and people would ask me what I was doing there. I would have to explain: "I am studying abroad from Canada, doing my 3rd year of university at ... blah blah blah, no I don't live near the rocky mountains...or Halifax. Quebec is the french speaking province...no I don't speak french, blah blah blah. I think I had to spit this out no less than 100 times. It was exhausting! Returning home was easier because I already knew most of the people who were asking about my trip. I sometimes liked to answer when people asked "How was Australia?" with a big grin and "What do you think? It was AWESOME!" and then leave it at that. They won't understand if you try to explain off the get go and the ones who want to know more will ask further. Except if I were you I might add in "very hard, my legs are sore, but it was AWESOME!"

  2. Those of us who live for the outdoors can easily relate to your experience. Everytime we head out into Nature, that is what we seek --- the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, the oneness with all the universe!!! No elevator pitch is needed. Leave that for the job searching situations.

    Mark (Emily's Uncle)

  3. First, I thoroughly enjoy this blog and thanks so much for maintaining it for us lucky readers. I really look forward to the updates etc.

    I was not so introspective(I was only 17) about my GAME78, and did not think much about it for 20 years until it happened into a conversation on an Alaskan adventure. Since then, I have reflected somewhat over how my GAME78 molded me. It was rather subtle not the biggest influence, but probably a Top 5 or 10 event. However, the impact was lasting. It steeled me from a lot of 'little distractions' that might have derailed me from a bigger objective, professionally, interpersonally, and recreationally. If anything, it was more a big enabler, and really built my confidence over time. I am not fearless, but I am less fearful.

    I don't know what your future plans for the blog are going to be, but I hope that in some way the Circus can transition your GAME10 into a post-AT blog of how it has affected your lives through the years. Whether you moonlight selling hiking boots or become the next F. Lee Bailey, it would be great to catch-up with you and how the AT fit into it all.

    Thanks again.