When I was about 15, my family went on a camping trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Our campsite was near where the Appalachian Trail climbed a mountain called The Priest. We had some time, so my brothers and I attempted to climb it. They were younger and became tired, but I managed to get to the top, where I was rewarded with a spectacular view.
While admiring the vista, I glimpsed a tall figure moving slowly along the path behind me. It was a lanky man with a full beard, ponytail, and a huge pack on his back. An Appalachian Trail distance hiker. I watched him disappear from view as he slowly started to descend the mountain.
I never forgot the sight of him, and I swore that I would one day return to the AT to hike it myself. It took 40 years, but a few…
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