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. Continue reading….