Walking with GiantsClick here to subscribe to the Pharr Out Blog
For most tennis players (being one myself – in a previous life) it would be a dream to play on the same court with Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe; or for those basketball fans (forever calling myself a Carolina faithful) out there… imagine playing a game of HORSE with Michael Jordan and Larry Byrd. It isn’t often that fans are able to have contact with sport greats, at most avid followers are usually satiated and turned away with little more than an autograph. The trail is different.
This week I was able to hike with two Appalachian Trail legends. At the beginning of the week I was joined in New York and New Jersey by trail running great, David Horton. Horton, as he is fondly called, was – and still is – a pioneer in the world of ultra running. In 1991 he set the record on the Appalachian Trail by running the path in 52 days… Amazing. I was lucky enough to meet Horton on my first thru-hike and after completing a handful of his insane ultra-races we have become good friends. After all, you know he must be a good friend if he came to run with me through the rocks that frequent if not engulf the trail in the mid-atlantic. Speaking of rocks, I wasn’t so happy with Horton with he decided to throw said stones at a large black bear 20 yards ahead of us on the trail… I mean the bear’s gonna move eventually, do we really need to throw things at him. AND THEN, the next morning he repeats his catapulting episode by beaning a skunk to see if he would spray! It might not have been my style but his verbose nature and constant antics sure made our 40-mile days fly by.
Hiking in very high spirits after my visit with Horton, the highlight of Pennsylvania came in the form of one Warren Doyle. Warren has hiked the Appalachian Trail more than any other person – EVER. Currently he is wrapping up the final sections of his 15th thru-hike. That’s over 30,000 miles just on the AT. WOW! Warren was also a part of my original AT thru-hike and in the years since he has been a friend on the trail and at local contra-dances. He helped Brew and I while we planned for our hike this summer and it would have been nearly impossible to navigate the Maine wilderness without his help and maps. Warren hiked me out of the rocks in Pennsylvania and then took Brew and I to an all you can eat buffet. There we talked about the southern section of the trail, which is timely considering Brew and I passed the mid-way mark today and tomorrow we will be back below the Mason Dixie line. Yep, this is where my hike “goes south”… and I can’t wait.
I am lucky to have such great friends and support on the trail, Warren and Horton in my mind are two of the most accomplished athletes I know and there accomplishments and service to the trail are incredible, but even as the legends come and go out of my life the best part of my hike is the day-to-day support and presence of my husband; cause when talking about the “greats”, he’s the greatest.