The Appalachian Trail Tells a Tale

 The Appalachian Trail is more than geography that extends through 14 states and 2200 miles of challenging terrain. For poet Gary Drury, his nonfiction account of his rendezvous with Mother Nature, or, as he describes her, a “cruel, relentless mistress,” the Appalachian Trail represented an epic journey. Drury is not a camper. Not a hiker. Not a backpacker, boulder scrambler, athlete, or rock climber. In order to embark on the journey that he undertook in 2014, he says, “I elected to step 180 degrees outside my comfort zone.” He began the journey as a novice. By the end, he realized that he had undergone a life-changing event.

 But he’s a poet. So it was perhaps inevitable that he would turn the images into words when the journey ended. He’s writing about his experiences, including the episode where he was nearly carried out in a body bag, and found the physical death to be reaffirming. The journey began, Drury admits, under romantic impressions, he gleaned from a National Geographic documentary. There were times when he questioned why he was subjecting himself to the physical ordeal. He was too stubborn to give up. But just as powerful as his determination was his dedication to the deceased family members he honored with his quest, and the charities, including the Red Cross, St. Jude’s, and the Salvation Army that he supported with his hiking.

 He got the idea from fellow hikers who, as they shared their experiences, told Drury that he should put his in print. “My memories, experiences, socialization will last a lifetime.” He answered with a warm inviting smile and a campfire glow gleaming in his slate-gray eyes. The working title of his book FINDING NORTH will surely inspire others to seek the adventure of their own, perhaps endeavor a journey of the Appalachian Trail.

 Not everyone is going to hike the Appalachian Trail. Not everyone wants to, not everyone is able to. But for those who would like to experience the journey vicariously, walking the Trail in Drury’s footsteps as they read his words, the book will be a travel guide. Drury’s book FINDING NORTH can take you to the Trail, where you’ll share the struggles and the triumphs of seven months that Drury, battered in body and exultant in spirit, will always remember.

 Drury speculates his book will be available sometime in the near future. After he has decompressed and recovered from his accidents. He extends a special thank you to all the hikers, trail angels, and trail magic that made his trek unique, genuine and wonderful during his most trying moments.

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