Speedgoat Karl

The beginning of the Approach Trail to Springer Mountain. March 16, 2009.
The summit of Mount Katahdin. Sept 25, 2009.








Last night I was browsing NetFlix (love my satellite internet!) and came across Karl Meltzer: Made to be Broken; a documentary about Karl’s 2016 run that broke the then record fastest time to complete the Appalachian Trail. I enjoyed this on so many levels.

First was just seeing spots along the AT and recognizing them from my own thru-hike. It’s amazing how many places I recognized, and even thought to myself “I know exactly where they’re standing to get that shot.”

Now my thru-hike, which took 6 months and 9 days, was nothing like Karl’s run, which took 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes! And Karl went southbound (SOBO) while I went northbound (NOBO).

Yet there are many similarities. Distance running and long distance hiking are both endurance sports. The key to completing what you set out to do is to not quit. I know that sounds blisteringly obvious, but when you’re in the middle of it it can be a hard thing to hold on to. Every year a couple thousand hikers leave Springer Mountain in Georgia bound for Mount Katahdin in Maine, and in a good year about 25% manage to finish. Heck, about 10% quit at Neels Gap, the first road crossing 30.5 miles north of Springer Mountain.

So what does all this mean? Quite literally, I don’t want to be a quitter. Fortunately as I’ve gotten older one of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned is that life is cycles. Sometimes you’re up; sometimes you’re down. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. But however bad today or this week or this month may be, if you just keep going eventually things will change and you’ll arrive somewhere. And sometimes that somewhere is an amazing surprise.

So far this wandering RV life has offered me some amazing experiences. It isn’t always easy, but nothing has yet made me want to quit.

2 thoughts on “Speedgoat Karl”

  1. Never did live close enough to the Apple Chain to give it a try.

    Now that I’m here on the Left Coast, I don’t drive (a car) anymore, so making it to the Pacific Crest Trail is a dream unfulfilled. Have to make do with shorter treks, such as from my desk to the refrigerator for another beer. Or from home to the library, or to Trader Joe’s for dinner fixin’s.

    We did get to the East Sierra this summer, our annual July 4th journey, away from the land of aerial bombs, M-80s and various other devices of noise and destruction, back to land of bare rock, desert sands and the sun glaring off of the salt pan. And silence, blessed silence.

    1. No fireworks here either; the state is a tinder-box. An interesting phenomenon to this transplanted easterner.

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