The Best Laid Plans…..Trust and the Trail

View from Rimrock Mountain, Georgia AT, November 2013.
View from Rimrock Mountain, Georgia AT, November 2013.

I had planned to go to a five-day Appalachian Trail Institute the first week of November, put on by infamous AT hiker Warren Doyle. Doyle has hiked the entire AT 16 times and I figured I could learn a LOT from someone like that. To be fair, I had doubts, though. Serious doubts. I’ve met Warren twice on the trail. I won’t go into detail, but the first time he acted like a bully and the second time like a hurt child that no one wanted to play with. Let’s just say I think the man could use some social skills. But I reasoned that he could still teach. I’m a student at heart and I wanted to learn.

So I signed up, paid my deposit, got time off from work and counted down the days on the calendar.

Roughly a week before the institute, I got an email from someone named “Sandy.” I have no idea if this is a man or a woman, but Sandy said s/he wanted to “share” a ride to the program in Damascus, VA. It became clear that what Sandy really wanted was for me to do all the driving AND to go out of my way to Toccoa, GA to pick him/her up. No mention of sharing the cost of gas.

Sandy knew my name, where I lived, my email and where I was going to be for a week. And I didn’t know Sandy. Creepy. So I emailed back asking if Mr. Doyle had given out my private information without my permission. I copied Warren and he responded that not only had he shared my info, but that he had been sharing other people’s info for 24 years and no one had a problem with it.

Well, I had a problem with it. I had been on the fence before and now I was sure I didn’t want to work with this guy. Giving out personal information is unprofessional and possibly illegal. Not only did I not know Sandy, but Warren didn’t know him/her either! It shows a total lack of concern for my privacy and my personal safety. So I emailed that I wouldn’t be coming and that I wanted my deposit back. He agreed to this request (though I’ve not seen the money yet).

*Sigh* It’s almost impossible to get vacation time back once it’s in the system at work. And I had so been looking forward to the time off. I wanted to get both mentally and physically prepared for the trail.

But wait! I still could. What would be better preparation for the trail than a hike? The first week of November should be similar weather to the first week of April, when I plan to start. I could seriously use more cold-ish weather hiking (OK, so most people start in March. Some in February. Not me. Call me chicken if you want, but I’m not crazy about hypothermia.).

So I made plans. I’ll report on the successes and failures of the trip, but I’ve updated my backpacking gear spreadsheet, if you are interested.

Also, I’m not the only one who finds Warren a challenge to work with. Madman Walking?: A Profile in Backpacker Magazine. This would not be my kind of hike.


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I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

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