Growing up in New Jersey, the Appalachian Trail was a short distance from home, and I took advantage of that proximity. Now, more than half-way across the country from the famous foot path, I seldom see it. Fortunately, there is AT Journeys.
Published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, this thin magazine appears every other month in my mailbox and fiendishly tugs at my boot laces to head back east if only to do a week-long sojourn.
The November-December issue showed up the other day with a variety of trail-related stories. There's a Q&A with Wendy Pacek, who volunteers her sweat and aching muscles for trail maintenance. A two-page featurette on the rediscovery, after more than 70 years gone missing, of a bronze plaque originally intended to mark the half-way point between Springer Mountain, Georgia, and Mount Katahdin in Maine. And another featurette profiles one of the welcoming town's along the well-worn path, Buena Vista, Virgina.
Supporting these and the rest of the issue's articles are great photographs from the trail, pictures that beckon even more at me (even though I'm aware of the poison ivy, the rocky sections that chew at your feet through the soles of your boots, the rain, mud, black flies, and days of self-doubt) to finally get to work on planning a thru-hike.
And two months from now the Conservancy will send me another copy of AT Journeys to tease me once again.
No doubt the intent behind this glossy publication is to lure more folks to the Appalachian Trail, and encourage a few more donors to the Conservancy that works hard to protect and preserve the AT.
From here in the Rockies, AT Journeys has also become a welcome friend who turns up every other month to pass a couple of hours with and subtly entice me back to the trail. But even if I can't hit the trail as often as I'd like, AT Journeys in many ways makes me feel as if I'm on the trail, and also comforts me in knowing a great many volunteers are at work to make sure it's ready for me when I do find my way east.