Long Trail – Go Big
Backpacker|May - June 2021
How I got my footing back as a 300-pound adventurer on the Long Trail.
Byb Kara Richardson Whitely

“How do you tell Long Trail hikers from Appalachian Trail hikers?” the man who went by the trail name Trash said, holding three fingers in the air.

I looked up at his tall, trim physique. He smirked, highlighting crow’s feet wrinkles on his perfectly sun-kissed face in a way that showed he thought the answer would be hilarious. “It’s BBB.”

“Boots?” I answered, looking down at my own, woefully inadequate, pair. My toes banged against rocks in the otherwise cushy trail runners I wore to soften my steps on this humid June day. I knew I’d end the summer with fewer toenails than I’d started with.

“Nope,” Trash said, shaking his head.

I sat perplexed with my fleshy bottom folding over a mound of quartz. I was having a Honey Stinger caramel waffle with my hiking partner and friend, Allie (trail name: June Bug). Our overloaded back-packs for our first overnight on this trail were flung to the side of the path. A sweat-soaked Long Trail thru-hiker named Kick Flip, one of the few solo female hikers we encountered had just caught up with us. We had been giggling about the nudist couple wearing nothing but boots, kneepads, and backpacks—because why the kneepads? That’s when Trash strode into our space.

“It’s big backpacks and . . . ” Trash looked around with the air of a school teacher waiting for one of us to figure out the puzzle. “Body fat.”

Long silence ensued.

“Well, then,” Kick Flip said before continuing on, “I guess I qualify.” We shook our heads as Trash went on and on about the sections of the AT he had “conquered” thus far, followed by his adventures out West.

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