THRU-HIKING LAB REPORT
Hiking in the spring is glorious, but there is substantial risk that you will catch whatever seasonal virus it is that drives people to think they should hike all the way from Georgia to Maine. This insidious disease has a long incubation....so long that you may think you have escaped. However, here are some symptoms that may precede the onset:
* The victims (you or a loved one) start collecting maps and guidebooks
* They ask everyone they meet about tents, Gore-Tex, and water filters.
* They start introducing themselves by a funny new name.
* They insist on knowing the weight, to the nearest gram, of everything they buy.
* They don't like their 100% cotton underwear and socks anymore.
* They develop an obsessive interest in weather, day length, elevation gains and losses, and how far they can hike in a day.
The most severe form of this syndrome was first described in 1948, but it was rare until the 1960's. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas succumbed in 1958. By 1982, there were 1000 cases on record; that number doubled in only 7 years. In the 1990's it became a major epidemic, with thousands coming down with it each year.
The virus respects neither age, sex, physical handicap, nor nationality. An 86-year-old got it in 1975, and a 6-year-old got it just 5 years later. Some people get it several times, and many victims write books about their struggle. Several dogs and at least one cat have also fallen pray to it. More men than women suffer from the disease, but, as with many other conditions, the women are catching up. The causative agent has not been identified; there is some evidence of a tiny parasite that burrows into brain tissue, causing major behavioral changes but minor permanent damage.
No rememdy has been found; victims harbor their ailment for the rest of their lives and seem to be highly infectious. However, many victims can lead lives that are surprisingly close to normal if they can acknowledge their affliction and get the hiking done, either all at once or in sections. many self-help books are available, and support groups exist in some communities.
~Doris Grove, 'Exploring the Appalachian Trail, Hikes in the Southern Appalachians
Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee
I just had to share this! :)