A word about donations

The kindness of people is a gale force, sweeping and miraculous. It humbles me.

I’ve had a few people ask me how they can contribute financially to the trip. Can I send some money, they’d like to know. Can I send you a few bucks of trail magic?

That gives me a moral dilemma.

This hike, for me, is partly a pilgrimage. I’m walking state by state through the entirety of my life, scouring away old scabs and contemplating future directions. If you want more informatoon about that, we should have coffee and talk. 🙂

But you know, it’s also part vacation. Right now I’m staying in a decent hotel watching NCIS reruns. I’m clean and warm and happy. If it were summer, I might be using the pool.

There are myriad ways I could be doing this more cheaply. Instead of staying in this hotel, I could be bunking with other hikers in the ten-dollar-a-night hostel up the street. I could be living on frozen lima beans like one hiker I met. I could be making use of hiker boxes.

But I’ve found that hostels don’t work for me, not every time. I need a quiet, private place to let my body rest and heal for a day. Even at that, I could be splitting the cost by trying to find a roommate. I’ve chosen not to do that so far. I negotiate at shelters, and the trail itself is a constant negotiation… in town, I just don’t want to have to negotiate for the TV remote or bathroom time. I need to relax and recharge in the way introverts do it best.

You see the dilemma? If I were to take a donation, then somebody else would be paying for my vacation. And I don’t recall a single instance where someone asked me to pay for theirs.

I saved for quite a while for this trip. Am I blowing through my budget at an alarming rate? Yes. Am I alarmed? No. I’ve still got plenty of budget, and contingency plans for later. I’m easing away from the hotel zeroes. As soon as it’s warm, I’m planning to take more of my zeroes in the woods. It’s just been too darn cold thus far. And I like the hostels sometimes, too. Just not every time.

So, to anybody who’s been thinking about that sort of trail magic, thank you. Your compassion overwhelms me and softens the edges of me that lose hope in the days of cold and misery. What models you are! True heroes.

I’m not precluding putting out a ‘trail magic’ jar later in the hike—particularly after the Whites, when I may truly be out of funds. For instance, one glaring hole in my budget is that I forgot to figure in money to get home from Maine (or Connecticut!); I was so concerned with making it past Neels Gap that the end of the journey kind of fell through the cracks.

If anybody still feels compelled to send trail magic, the best way is to email it via PayPal to thumperwalk at gmail. That way you can specify in the notes what it should be used for: food, gear, coming home. The pilgrimage and not the vacation. Semantics, maybe, but I take those very seriously.

For now, honestly, the best trail magic is to comment on the blog. Really. It’s a lonely business out here, and friends vanish as frequently as the weather changes. This space is a rock for me, solid and anchoring.

Thank you so much.

Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “A word about donations

  1. Rackman

    I admire your grit, I enjoy your comments and understand your thoughts on private time and space. Keep on keep’en on!!!!

  2. I AM COMING TO PICK YOU UP. No negotiations. XOXOXOX

  3. I really do understand your feelings about donations. If I were able to do the hike that is exactly how I would feel. That said I will respect your intention and help you get home when you are ready for the help. Although it looks like “Sharon” may have that covered, LOL!
    I appreciate your blog and all the insight you are lending. I do hope to get to do some sections in the future.
    And I really do hope to sit down and talk about this over coffee someday.

    • That’s my sister! My actual sister, I mean, LOL.

      Coffee would be great. 🙂 I’m still thinking about a Festie section hike, too! Although this may have cured me of the urge to backpack. 😉

  4. I’m sick with allergies or a cold, not sure which since the symptoms are so close. I just dosed up on cough syrup with decongestant. I can’t imagine hiking anywhere right now. My hat, if I were wearing one, would be off to you. You “ARE” trail magic. 🙂

    When do you think you’ll hit either Connecticut or Maine or some New Englandy place? Depending on when and where you end up, I could give you a ride to many places.

    • Oh, ick! I hope you feel better soon! 😦

      I don’t know when I’ll hit New England. I’m guessing… oh… August? You’ll see me inching closer, though!

  5. Karma … well done piece on “donations.” I was fortunate in my thru-hike attempt to not have to be concerned about money (or time) … even to the point of flying back to Atlanta (with shuttles / motels for my short “second attempt.”

    In earlier posts, you’ve made reference to your higher than expected “burn rate” (burning through your start-up capital). I’ve been monitoring your situation from the sidelines. You are undertaking an adventure for which no amount of advanced planning can prepare you for the “Trail” ahead.

    I have read of hikers who have mastered their “Yogi-ing” skills … I even got a free ride from Woody Gap to Neel Gap during that Storm. Some even “Yogi” their fellow hikers for money. I am confident that your situation is different.

    You are demonstrating such gritty determination under continuing adverse weather and health conditions that I want to see you finish this hike. Manage your “spend rate” as best you can … but do not let your “ethics” or “honor” get in the way of thankfully accepting some PayPal receipts.

    Continue to enjoy your “day at the spa!”

    Javelin 13

    • LOL! Thanks, Javelin! I did save up more than the average reqiired for a hike. If worse comes to worse and I run out of cash but I have time to get to Katahdin, I’m not afraid of credit. 😉

      And thank you again for the battery. That’s HUGE trail magic!

  6. Let me flip this around and share what the blog posts mean to an intensely interested audience – at least me being one of them.

    In my case, I’m not a voyeur, though sometimes it feels that way because some of the blogs are intensely personal. I’m following folks to glean what crumbs of wisdom I can in advance of my hike next year. What I’ve learned from you and others has completely and more realistically reframed my approach and set my expectations for the better. Thanks to all of you for that.

    What I didn’t expect was to become vested in everyone’s success. If you had a jersey number, I’d be wearing it! No kidding. When those I follow don’t post, I worry if they’re okay. I cheer every success and overcome obstacle. I want to give free hugs to everyone who stumbles, gets sick or hurt, or struggles with trail depression. I love stories of trail magic ’cause it’s just that – magic! I don’t know what or who keeps the AT fairies happy, but what ever and who ever, please don’t stop.

    In your case, I’ve enjoyed your keen super power of observing the unusual and the mundane with a powerful sense of humor and a punchy vocabulary. You also have a nice way of stripping away the gauzy sentimentality in a positive way.

    At this point in time, I’m like a kid anticipating birthday presents when I open my email each morning. That’s not true. Actually I’m a junky who needs a fix checking email and trailjournals.com as many times as possible each day. I want to know the score – who’s ahead, who fell behind, and who bit the dust.

    Other times I want to write, “Hello! Who could be that stupid!!!” Von Bismark had it wrong. God protects drunks, fools, children and AT hikers – at least some of them. The aforementioned describes well-chronicled adventures that have bordered dangerously close to life and death. One hiker did freeze to death in the Smokies, so this shxt is serious. (Source: Charlotte Observer) Yet the ingenuity and grit on display is simply put, “inspiring.” “AT, the Movie” would be a blockbusting adventure story, a story in which your readers vicariously participate each time you and your fellow class of 13 members post.

    Please hike on knowing that you have a full stadium in cyberspace cheering for you in good and bad, sickness and health, richer or poorer, no matter what. We can’t wait for the next chapter, speaking of which, bigger is better in the photo department so long as you have the battery and bandwidth.


  7. Shirl

    It is so great to “travel” with you. Minus the bumps and bruises! 😱

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