Tag Archives: Appalachian Trail

AT: USMC and engineers are the worst

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This view, which I’ve often put up on this blog, is directly on the path of the AT (Appalachian Trail). Jesus and I pass this way frequently on Communion Calls.

At one stop at the Hike Inn, having a chat with the owner, I was told that Marines and engineers are the absolute worst for hiking the AT.

  • Engineers are persnickety and think they can make just one more nook or cranny in their massively huge backpacks so that they can actually carry the kitchen sink with them. You could never fit their backpacks into a small SUV. What are they thinking? Too smart for their own good. They make a few miles and are worn out. They don’t calculate the human factor.
  • Marines are, of course, stuck on 80 pound packs. As long as it is 80 pounds they’ll be just fine. Going 25 miles in one day with 80 pounds is one thing, for one day. But when you’re facing 2,200 miles, that’s another thing altogether. Again, they don’t calculate the human factor. Anything is easier than war, right? Even civilians do this trail thing, right? But then…

In the picture above, I count about 25 ridges over the space of about as many miles. This is not easy. But am I recommending to count the cost before you start? No, not at all. If you knew what it might just cost you before you start you might not even begin. Rather, the old saying about preparing for the worst fits well, but kind of in reverse. Instead of packing more, you pack as little as possible.

The analogy to the spiritual life is easy. Purity of heart and agility of soul, having as little baggage as possible, having one’s eyes on goal, taking up the cross but following Jesus, keeping one’s eyes on Him, that’s what makes it all possible. But maybe we think we can get away with carrying extra rubbish, like the USMC or engineer guys that the nice lady at the Hike Inn meets all the time, you know, because we know how to congratulate ourselves, allowing ourselves to get away with this and that and the other thing. But then the fatigue of the first day on the trail hits us, and then we fall by the way side.

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