March 14, 2022
EP. 310 — Hiked the Appalachian Trail
A man discusses the biggest challenges of hiking the trail and the scariest thing of all: Lyme disease. He describes legendary (and sometimes creepy) people known along the trail including the shirtless “hammer man” and the hospitality of “trail angels.” He also shares a story with Geth about a stranger’s kindness and how it gave him the strength to go on.
310 — Hiked the Appalachian Trail
Chris Gethard [00:00:05] Hello to all my trail angels. It’s Beautiful/ Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names. No holds barred. (THEME SONG) Hi everybody and welcome to Beautiful/ Anonymous. My name’s Chris Gethard. It is an honor to be your host after all these years, bringing you real conversations with real people, uncensored, in their own words, in their own vernacular, not feeding you anything because we’re part of the media just putting it out there. A snapshot of life in audio form. One human at a time. Proud to do it, thanks to everybody who enjoyed last week’s episode, Divorced at 25. There’s a lot of feedback, people empathizing with the caller. A lot of people saying the caller sounded like a good mom. And a lot of people giving me advice on better ways to clean my shower drain. So thanks everybody for that. As always, ChrisGeth.com if you want to know what I’m getting back out on the road. Coming back in May. I know I’m plugging it early, but look, I want to come out of the gate hard. First weekend of shows is in Florida. Those are all standup shows. And then the first Beautiful/ Anonymous tapings are in Durham, North Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina. I wanna pack those out. ChrisGeth.com for tickets. If you’re in North Carolina, I want to see you. I want to hang out. And I’m going all over the country so you can check if I’m going to be in your neck of the woods at ChrisGeth.com. OK, enough of the plugs. This week’s episode is one that I’ve been hoping for for years. Like if you told me to make a list of topics when we first started this show of things I hope I get to talk about on here someday, that list would have been very long. But one of the things on there would have been this exact call. The caller hiked the Appalachian Trail. Appalachian Trail? Appalachian Trail. I pronounce it both ways. It’s interchangeable. And we talk about the the rigor of that, the struggle of that, the dangers with that, the beauty of that, the people you meet along the way, the ones to be wary of, as well as the angels. It’s cool. It’s just one of those things that it’s cool that it exists. It’s there. The Appalachian Trail. And there’s people walking up and down it every year. And if you’re like me, it’s not too far from my house and there’s just people wandering. This person wandered not too far from my house and maybe your house. And there’s something about that that theoretically makes me so happy. So to hear from our caller today about their own experiences in their own worlds, what a joy. I hope you enjoyed as much as I did.
Automated Voice [00:02:56] Thank you for calling beautiful anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
Caller [00:03:03] Hello?
Chris Gethard [00:03:04] Hi.
Caller [00:03:05] Hey! How’s it going?
Chris Gethard [00:03:08] It’s good, I feel bad they patched you through and I was eating a snack. Chewing. It’s very unprofessional.
Caller [00:03:16] Do you want to finish your snack?
Chris Gethard [00:03:17] Let me just swallow real quick.
Caller [00:03:20] Okay. Sorry.
Chris Gethard [00:03:21] Okay. I’m good. I’m good. Caught me red handed. I’m good. Eating some goldfish. No, you have nothing to apologize for. I’m the idiot trying to scarf down some goldfish before we begin. How are you? How’s things?
Caller [00:03:35] I am good. I don’t have great service around these parts so I’m actually in a parking lot by a supermarket. So living large.
Chris Gethard [00:03:50] Ok. You sound good. You sound good.
Caller [00:03:51] So good. Okay. Good. Good. Good to know. So I I got a lot to talk about here. Kind of wanted to get to it. About a month ago, I finished hiking the Appalachian Trail. And we started in Maine and went to Georgia. So kind of a- most people go the other way.
Chris Gethard [00:04:17] Wow. Congrats.
Caller [00:04:17] So that’s it was sort of- thank you. Yeah, it was crazy. Not what I expected. That’s for sure.
Chris Gethard [00:04:28] I’ve always fantasized about it, but physically, I am fairly certain I could not do it.
Caller [00:04:34] I mean, you’d be surprised, like there- I think this year there was a dude in his 80s who now like has the record for the oldest person to do the AT. Like, it’s pretty stunning what our bodies can do. Like, there was a five year old who he didn’t hike a lot, but he was with his parents and he, I think he was the youngest kid to uh he had to get special permission to hike (UNCLEAR) which is the like the end of the trail going north. So you might be able to surprise yourself to get out there. Are you close to the trail?
Chris Gethard [00:05:13] It’s funny because I am pretty close to the trail, I think because a pretty decent chunk of it crosses through New Jersey, I think, but specifically in an area of New Jersey where I think- and you would know more than I would about how true this is everywhere- it’s not like the Appalachian Trail is like a daily factor in the lives of living- of people living in New Jersey, unless I would imagine you’re in a place that butts up right against it.
Caller [00:05:42] Right.
Chris Gethard [00:05:43] So it’s it’s northwest of where I am, but I could drive. I think I could drive to an app- I could drive to a trailhead in an hour. Pretty sure.
Caller [00:05:54] Sweet, yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:05:55] Hour and a half tops. I’ve been told that the New Jersey portion is about four days of people’s time on the trail generally, is what I’ve been told.
Caller [00:06:04] Yeah, yeah, that sounds about right. They were super cool. Actually, I really enjoyed New Jersey way more than Connecticut and New York, which- so there was so much rain this year in the spring and in the summer that the mosquitoes were just horrendous by the time I got to Connecticut. So it was like and like we we would hate for maybe 10 or 11 hours a day, and it was just like nonstop swarming of mosquitoes. Like we would send- I would set my tent up at lunch just so we could have like a break from the bugs. So by the time we got to New Jersey, they they let let up a little bit, which was a nice reprieve.
Chris Gethard [00:06:47] Well, that’s good. I’m glad to hear that Jersey brought something positive to the table. I think a lot of people who come to the Northeast go, I actually like Jersey a lot better than I thought I would. I feel like that’s not just the Appalachian Trail, I feel like in general. Can I ask what state you live in when you’re not out there wandering, wandering the trails?
Caller [00:07:06] Yeah, I’m from Maine. And I currently live in.
Chris Gethard [00:07:10] Yes, so many questions. I’ve always wanted to talk to somebody who’s done it. OK, I’ll just start throwing out some questions in general. Are you someone- are you an outdoorsy person, hiker in general? Was it always a goal? Did something specific prompt it, or was it just like a bucket list, I’d love to get it done some day?
Caller [00:07:28] I yeah, I would say I’m definitely an outdoorsy person, but I actually was not much of a backpacker. I had a backpacked before a little bit like ten years ago in Yosemite and one other spot. But definitely like super into hiking and running tons of trails out here. So yes, to that. And also, like some people on the trail, like my like one woman that I hiked with almost the whole way that I met on the trail, like she, she wanted to do it since high school and she was 24. But I was like, it was like pandemic still raging, you know, as it is still now, but it was starting to let up that, you know, you could get a vaccine. And I was working this warehouse job, actually an outdoors company, and so I was like packing clothes in the boxes for other people who were like going on cool adventures and doing that eight hours a day, which is pretty miserable. So I was like, maybe I should, you know, do something crazy and get out of here. And the hope was to go on the trip and like, you know, figure something out for the future. Which I think a lot of people do, you know, they’re like, Well, I have so much time while I’m hiking to kind of like, realize things about myself and, you know, maybe find a new direction. And the reality for me was that I did that a little bit, but like, you’re just so tired. It’s pretty. It’s so hard. That was something that I realized very quickly. Uh, so that- was there other question that I missed there?
Chris Gethard [00:09:14] No, we’ll get to all them. So you, in a way you’re going, Oh, this is going to be like this spiritual awakening. I’m gonna hit the reset button in my life and really figure myself out. And then at the end of the day, you’re like, Uh… If I can, I have to get away from these mosquitoes, and if I can put it, if I can hoof it for an extra mile or two, I might get to a place where I can take a shower in the morning. Let’s focus on that. So there’s a lot of that.
Caller [00:09:40] Yeah, a lot of dreaming about food. So we carry usually like three or four days at a time. And the food you carry is like, not amazing. Like, you’re really you’re trying to just limit the amount of weight you’re carrying. So any food you’re buying you have to like put it in your pack and it’s weight on your back. So like usually people eat like ramen. They eat instant mashed potatoes. I ate a lot of Doritos and Fritos and gummy bear- like this is just like the worst food you can think of that’s like high in calories. So while you’re eating that stuff you’re just like dreaming about like pizza or like an apple, just like delicious fresh fruit. So that, that’s kind of what you think about a lot on the trail. A lot of people, actually, like some people lose a lot of weight. With one of the women I hiked with lost like thirty five pounds, and she started to get pretty worried about being just, you know, not not being healthy enough to keep hiking. So not not thinking about like, super important life stuff when you’re like, I’m hungry.
Chris Gethard [00:10:57] And how often? Because I know- so talk to me about this, because I have read up on a lot about it. I got so many questions I want to ask you. So there’s like a an economy around the trail. There’s towns that the trail cuts through, where there’s places to buy supplies or where people will mail things to be held and wait for them or restaurants or places to spend a couple of bucks to have a room to sleep and a shower for a night. How often are you passing through an actual town? Or do you kind of have to get off the trail for that? How how does that economy and ability to get food and the actual infrastructure work as far as stretches and desolation versus stretches where you’re passing through stuff that feels more civilized?
Caller [00:11:44] It really depends. So like the reason that- I guess one of the reasons that a lot of people start in the south is that if you start in the north, you’re doing this really hard mountain and then you’re immediately going into what’s called the 100 mile wilderness, which is 100 miles between towns. So usually that’s like, unless you’re a really good hiker, that’s like 10 days worth of hiking without- like between towns. So it’s kind of this really long, it’s not desolate but it’s like wilderness. You know, like there’s a few logging roads to go through it. There’s no cell service for most of it. So that’s the biggest chunk between towns. And you really don’t- I don’t know how many, maybe maybe five or six towns, maybe a few more that you actually walk through. But there’s always like you’re stuck. Hundred mile stretch. There’s like every, I want to say, 40 miles ish there’s a major like a paved road that will give you the ability to get to town to then like get the food you need. And usually there would be like a hostel, like a specific hostel- a hiker hostel. So it’s because there are so many people coming through like they’re able to have this hostel that takes in hikers and has hot showers and dorm like bunk, you know, bunk style rooms for pretty cheap. There are those like chill towns that cater to hikers, which is like, pretty essential. I think back in the day, there weren’t as many hostels. And what people did a lot is I think they would hitch into a town and buy the food they need at the supermarket and then just hitchhike out. And you know, that’s- you can still do that. But it’s just a different experience, I guess.
Chris Gethard [00:13:33] These are towns that I would have to bet they’re so off the grid, right? Like, people aren’t just passing through these towns as they like, drive to their doctor’s appointment. These are towns that exist because of their relationship with the trail and hikers. Would you say this is true?
Caller [00:13:46] Uh, maybe for some of them. I wouldn’t say by and large. You’re like one of them is like Hanover. So it’s like, you know, that’s a pretty- that town is doing pretty well. You know, Dartmouth is there. So that’s one of the towns of the trail goes through. But I guess in more like kind of in the middle of Virginia, you’re you’re kind of following the ridges there. There are some towns that are probably getting quite a lot of business from hikers, especially the ones that are starting south and going north because so many of them drop off after that. So before they drop off, they’re just, you know, we heard stories of like… there’s shelters along the trail like every 10 miles. So at a shelter that’s supposed to hold like eight people in the shelter and maybe like five tents, there’d be like 50 tents at a shelter.
Chris Gethard [00:14:44] Fifty people, that sounds like a party. But things get pretty funky at those shelters. We’ll find out when we get back. Thanks to all of our advertisers. Now let’s go ahead and get back out onto the trail with our caller.
Caller [00:15:10] So before they drop off, they’re just, you know, we heard stories of like… There’s shelters along the trail like every 10 miles, so at a shelter that’s supposed to hold like eight people in the shelter and maybe like five tents, there’d be like 50 tents at a shelter. And so, you know, it’s a shit load of people. Um sorry, Sally. And you know, they’re hitting a trail town. That’s a ton of, you know, a ton of business for the for those towns, for sure.
Chris Gethard [00:15:39] Mm hmm. One of my other big logistical questions, because I want to keep getting through all the basics, right? There’s all the questions that you get asked every time you mention this and I want to get through all of those so we can get to the deeper stuff. One of the big ones, I imagine that has to be, I would imagine, irritating because… So many people hike the trail every year. But it’s this thing that’s the Appalachian Trail, one of the really fascinating things about it is, like you said, you’re going through Jersey, Connecticut, New York, you’re going through places where people are probably within a few minutes of it or even within sight of the times maybe don’t even realize that it’s right there. Like me, I couldn’t tell you exactly where it is in Jersey, but I know it’s rather close. So it’s this kind of like hidden culture unto itself that cuts through these places. You don’t hear about all the people who start off in Georgia and make it to Maine or start off in Maine and make it to Georgia. What you tend to hear about if you’re not a backpacker who’s on the message boards communicating about the Appalachian Trail because it’s part of your life, your culture, you have an affinity for it, is the disaster’s, right? You hear about safety issues or you hear, you know, you hear about I- there’s this podcast called Out Alive and Outside Magazine rebroadcast one of their episodes about a pretty infamous case about a guy who is mentally unwell, hiking the Appalachian Trail, and was encountering a lot of hikers who were going, This person is unwell. Getting getting to the shelters and kind of threatening people and chasing them away and showing them knives. And eventually he murdered a couple of people. And it was a really fascinating thing because they talked about how the culture of the trail is one where it’s like, OK, if you want to report a person who you encounter on the trail who is clearly mentally unwell and dangerous, you probably don’t have cell service when you encounter them. So you’re reporting them a couple of days later. And at that point, what are the police from that municipality going to do? Because you don’t know who this person was or how far they made it. And when you think of it as far as being able to police it. So you hear about those stories or like, I don’t know that I don’t think he was on the Appalachian Trail because he was found in Florida, but you read about the mostly harmless hiker who went viral so many times, everybody trying to figure out the identity of this backpacker who died while while hiking and who had spent time on the trail. And I read an article about a guy who was on the FBI’s most wanted list who had spent years hiking up and down the trail under his trail name. People didn’t know. So you hear about that stuff because that’s sensationalistic. But I do feel bound to ask you about safety and how stories like that travel if you hear about them. If those are overblown… Because that is what the layman who doesn’t have an interest in this hears about is when somebody goes nuts and a murder happens or-.
Caller [00:18:24] Right.
Chris Gethard [00:18:25] Disaster unfolds. So what’s your relationship with the safety issues of the trail?
Caller [00:18:30] So I felt very safe. I would say. Mostly what we worried about was Lyme disease, which is like a lot of people say that’s kind of a bigger- a lot of people worry about bears and then a lot of people are liike, well Lyme disease is actually a much bigger issue. But in terms of like worrying about other people on the trail, something that has been helpful is there are different Facebook groups that people, you know at any one time, there are people at every part of the trail. So if weird things, they see something weird, have some kind of odd interaction, people will post on those groups to let everyone else know what’s going on and then other people be like, OK, yeah, I saw them here. Um so like actually one weird character we kept hearing about this past year was this dude named Hammer Man. That’s kind of just what people started calling him. And he was in Pennsylvania. Apparently, he would hang out on the trail, which there was like not really close to any towns so it’s like, kind of weird. He would hang out in blue jeans, shirtless, with a hammer and just like, make really weird, uncomfortable eye contact with female hikers. So that was a dude that we kept hearing about and people, you know, as soon as they saw him in a new place, they would tell us. Or you know, they would post it to the groups so that everyone would know. So… I mean, kind of like you were saying, so that’s one kind of weird guy over, you know, miles of trail.
Chris Gethard [00:20:14] I can find people on Reddit. There’s an Appalachian Trail subreddit where people are posting warning about seven months ago. Well it’s saying a man going sobo- southbound, I imagine, right?
Caller [00:20:26] Yeah, yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:20:27] Look at the big brain on Chris there. So guy says at Mile 11, 12, tag run stream between Pine Grove Furnace Store and Green Mountain General Store I stopped to filter water and rest. A man going sobo came up behind me. Moved to let him pass by, he said he was stopping here and sat in the middle of the bridge. He had nothing but a small brown daypack and a hammer in his hand. He didn’t say anything else to me, but stared intently at me the entire time. Thankfully, two other hikers came by not long after. We waited together (UNCLEAR) we move. And then there’s all these other people posting about how they’ve seen him. Here’s pics of him. So continue your story. But I’ll say for anybody listening, you can find the posts of people. The trail- so you’re kind of saying the trail has this self-policing, self-regulating culture where people can raise red flags for each other and check in. Well, that guy’s a scary looking dude. Tell me more. Tell me more.
Caller [00:21:14] I’m not sure I ever saw the picture. So we actually had a super, I mean this weird guy where like so we were kind of in that area and we hadn’t heard anything in a while. And I get to the bridge and there’s this little kid there in blue jeans, no shirt, and he didn’t have a hammer but he was like, what’s the password? And I’m like, Please, can I cross? And he’s like, No! And he like kind of tried to wrestle with me a little bit. And I was like, what the hell, like is this hammer guy? Just like this weird interaction with someone that life could have been like a tiny version of hammer guy. But we didn’t- we never met the actual hammer guy. And I was going to say that so there is also like a women’s specific Facebook groups in terms of like… So that includes like maybe other hikers around the trail who are being weird with women so like so women can alert each other to that kind of thing, which is unfortunately something that happens on the trail. There’s so many awesome people on the trail and also so many just kind of like bizarre people that have any number of issues, you know?
Chris Gethard [00:22:36] Yeah.
Caller [00:22:36] That are out there.
Chris Gethard [00:22:38] I bet. I bet there’s a lot of people who want to find themselves or who don’t fit in in society, who walk into the woods and feel, you know, like I really, really dislike the word normal because the goalposts move on it all the time, but probably find some sense of normalcy or acceptance in this because it is inherently kind of, you are, you know, people who opt into doing it, whether you go back to a real life afterwards or you’re a lifer, like you’re opting in to a fringe lifestyle at least while you’re out on the trail. You find some acceptance there, but it doesn’t mean your problems are being solved. It leads to some scary situations. But I have to imagine 99 percent of the time people must feel safe. And secure or else there would not be doing it.
Caller [00:23:26] Yeah, no, totally. Yeah, I mean, it helps that it is such a social trail. The I mean, I guess it was kind of just that was from the beginning they wanted to have these shelters every 10 miles. So those are just like natural gathering places. And it sounds like I mean, so the Pacific Crest Trail, like the other one that a lot of people do, but it’s kind of it’s just not as social because you don’t have those like super established sites. Right? I mean, and I feel like that, like getting people together is a good way to feel a lot safer too. Especially a lot of people that may be hiking on their own. You can usually count on there being a couple other people at the shelter, you know?
Chris Gethard [00:24:11] And then what? So you can meet up with the people at the shelter and you’re going southbound and they’re going northbound and they might say to you, like, Hey, just keep your eyes peeled. There’s a kook with a hammer down the road. He’s got a staring problem, but just keep walking. Or they- might they also say, like, Hey, so like, you’re coming up on a store that doesn’t have this type of supply, so don’t burn your way through this because you’re not going to be able to get any at the next place. You think you’re going to get any. You start to have conversations like that, I bet.
Caller [00:24:39] Oh, totally. Yeah. And honestly think mostly you’re talking about water and like where the good water sources are.
Chris Gethard [00:24:46] Yeah, yeah.
Caller [00:24:48] But there’s also this is a kind of a big change from how it used to be even-I guess I’m not sure how old it is maybe like eight or nine years, but so there is now a GPS app that most people use that people still call it Gut Hook, it just recently changed names. But so like within that app, it it shows you where you are, which is like in a way, it kind of takes away, maybe from like some of the magic of being in the wilderness, but it also is just really, really helpful. Like, I was just talking about it with water. So if you’re not sure, like, let’s say, no one’s at the shelter who is from, you know, the way that you’re going and shows like the guide you have shows that there’s a water source, but it’s seasonal and it hasn’t rained in two weeks, and you’re not sure whether or not you should carry like an extra litre or two of water, which is really heavy, or if there’s water there. So people can leave comments on the app to let you know, like, while I was like a couple days ago, water was flowing. Like no worries.
Chris Gethard [00:25:50] And is it something to you that your loved ones can keep track of you via GPS as well?
Caller [00:25:56] Um you can share it with other people within the app. I’m pretty sure I haven’t done it, but the two women I was hiking with, they they just shared their location with their family, like I think that was just on their smartphones. Not specifically within the app.
Chris Gethard [00:26:15] Got it cuz I’ve heard that with some of the trail hiking that I’ve heard that there’s been situations, some famous ones where people will literally step off the trail just to urinate. And they get kind of turned around trying to come back, walk in the wrong direction and people have died not realizing, Oh, the woods, look so similar. You were, you were a hundred and fifty yards from the trail and you wound up getting dehydrated because it can be so hard. So I would have to imagine that GPS stuff, while it might take away the magic, the safety benefits of this, people must just go, OK, well, we no longer are in this like technology free, wander through the woods sort of like Lord of the Rings-esque walk, but if people don’t hear from you for two days and they can turn on a thing that tells them, Oh, we can come save you, the benefits of that far outweigh the loss of magic I would have to think.
Caller [00:27:09] Yeah, yeah, for sure. And yeah, like it’s I was just like not great at staying on the trail I’ll say. Especially like in New York, it seemed like the Appalachian Trail wasn’t really something they cared about that much. I don’t know. It was just like the routing of it. But often the AT would not be like if there was like a branch in the trail, there’d be like this little tiny offshoot and and you just like naturally, if you weren’t paying attention, would follow the other trail. So like, there were just so many times where it was just so helpful to be able to like, look and be like, Oh yeah, I’m like, you know, I’m 100 yards off trail instead of like hiking another mile and then being like, Huh, I haven’t seen any (UNCLEAR) for like an hour.
Chris Gethard [00:27:56] And do you did you set off to do it yourself or where were you- were you with friends?
Caller [00:28:01] I started alone and met up with two other women who, one of them also started alone, and the other one started with two other people who dropped out very quickly. So there were three of us that hiked together for almost the whole way, and we all were alone in the first couple of days.
Chris Gethard [00:28:21] Wow. So that’s like when you get to the end of that, that’s a bond with those people who are strangers. That’s like, that’s a specific relationship in your life that no one else can replicate. Because even if you do it again, it’s not the first time. So you now have a bond with these two women who you didn’t know before you set out to do this that’s remarkable.
Caller [00:28:41] Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, we have- we talk, we talk a lot still and just kind of still, you know, we finished like a month ago, a little over a month ago, and we’re still just kind of like processing everything that happened because we’re like pretty ready to be done by the end. So it’s kind been this slow process of being like, what? What happened? What did we do?
Chris Gethard [00:29:08] Does it hit so it doesn’t have a victorious ending. It hits a point where you’re like, We’re in southern Virginia. I’m not going to bail now. I guess I’ll just finish it. Do you have a lot of things like that?
Caller [00:29:19] It kind of was like that. Yeah. So Virginia in particular, they call it the Virginia Blues. So there was like some really amazing parts of Virginia. Like Shenandoah National Park is there, and the McAffee Knob is like one of the iconic pictures a lot of people take when it’s like this rock overhang over this like this valley and the people will will they’ll be on the on the overhang. So anyway. There’s like Grayson Highlands, there’s also there’s these like little ponies in the Grayson Highlands. That’s another really beautiful part of Virginia, but it’s the whole state there’s 500 miles of trail there and so much of it is you’re walking on these ridges and you just kind of go up for a while and then you don’t see anything and then you go down for a while and then you just keep doing that, like for days and days and days and you just kind of start to lose your mind. Yeah, that was rough. It also started to get cold. Like, you know, we’re hiking in November and December. We had a day where the water started freezing in our packs, you know, low of like 15 one night. Which is just like it’s not great to sleep in that. I kind of thought it would be like… I just for whatever reason I just didn’t really know what to expect. I thought you’d hike for like half a day and then like, you know, swim in the water and like, I almost brought an extra pair of running shoes because like, Oh, well, you know, I can go running in the afternoons. And it’s just like not that. If you want to do the whole trail like you really have to hike for like 10 hours a day. And you get faster but like you just like the terrain gets easier. So you you end up just having to do more miles. And you’re just exhausted. Like when you get done maybe it’s like starting to get dark so you set up your tent, you cook your food, you talk for like five, 10 minutes and then you just like pass out and like sleep for 10 hours. It’s definitely not like a vacation in any way.
Chris Gethard [00:31:41] Yeah, I love this. OK, let’s check the time. We got 31 minutes left. So about halfway there. OK, so one thing I love is you’ve said you’re like, you kind of set out with this idea that it’s going to be like, reset your life. And then really, you’re mostly worried about mosquitoes. And think it’s going to be this like, yeah you sit here thinking about food. You you think that there’s going to be this like adventure quality to it and diving off of waterfalls and going on runs. And really, you’re just like losing your mind in Virginia because everything has looked the same for days. That being said, there must be some things you philosophically walk away with that you didn’t have before. And I wonder what those are.
Caller [00:32:26] For sure. And I do want to say also that there are so, so many amazing parts. Like for the first couple of months, I probably jumped in every body of water that we came across, like in the beautiful lakes and streams and rivers, and almost every day in Maine and New Hampshire, going up some amazing mountain and just seeing, you know, mountains and wilderness for miles and miles. So it wasn’t like I was like, this is awful.
Chris Gethard [00:32:54] Of course. No, but the reality the reality sets in of oh, you’re gonna walk- because how many, how many months does it take in total?
Caller [00:33:01] We- took us like five and a half.
Chris Gethard [00:33:04] When you’re walking for five and a half months, there’s no way that every- here’s the sad truth of how life works, right? When you’re doing something for five and a half months straight, there’s going to be days where you go, great, I’m looking at the most beautiful valley I’ve ever seen. I wish I had a hot cup of fucking coffee. There’s going to be days where you have that, and that’s totally valid. Five and a half months in, there’s going to be times where you go, Oh, I’m I’m staring into a cave and I’m perched at the top of this rock overhang. And God damn, the earth is so beautiful. But you know what else I wish I had? Was a fresh pair of socks. And that’s kind of more important to me right now, and I’m sorry if that makes me ungrateful. Like, there’s the reality of it. But that being said, so I understand. I’m not. I don’t think you’re painting yourself or the experience in any way as anything so beautiful. But the reality of it is real. That’s why we’re talking. But I do want to know, like so five and a half months, it changes you in some way, I’m sure. And it’s pretty fresh on your mind. It was this year. So what are the things where you walk away going, OK, I think I’ve been rewired. I think I’ll look at life a little differently in in this sense. Are there things you can point to that that jump out?
Caller [00:34:14] Yeah. I mean, I think for one thing, like related to what we were just talking about is that like the drudgery, you know, as terrible as it was, like, it’s essential. You know, it was essential to get there. So I guess just realizing that like, I think that does apply to any really difficult thing that you want to accomplish is like there are going to be amazing moments along the way, but probably the majority of it is just going to be this like this slog, you know, getting through- like I would imagine, like in your case, it’s like going to open mics, you know, where like maybe one person is listening, you know, everyone else is like looking at their notebook and like trying to figure out what jokes they’re going to tell. And like doing that for years and years or like doing improv shows where there was like two people in the audience, you know? And you just kind of have to like, keep gutting it out until something amazing happens.
Chris Gethard [00:35:18] Keep gutting it out until something amazing happens. That’s a hell of a quote. That’s a lot like life right there. OK, we got some ads, everybody. Be right back. Thanks once again to all the advertisers who help us bring the show to the world. Now let’s finish off the phone call.
Caller [00:35:42] And you just kind of have to like, keep gutting it out until something amazing happens. And that’s something I’ve definitely been thinking about more recently because like that’s crazy to like walk 2000 miles. Like, what? It’s absurd. But yeah, you just have to keep at it day after day.
Chris Gethard [00:36:05] That’s kind of life.
Caller [00:36:07] I know right?
Chris Gethard [00:36:07] There’s certain things that reduce you- because I will say I’ve had this experience, like you said, professionally, there’s elements of slog. And then there’s also the other thing I would say that I really identify with is like there’s times where it’s not even open mics. There’s times where it’s like, Oh, I just drove, you know, I stayed out on the road an extra 48 hours to do another show, and I got there and I didn’t do a good job promoting it and the venue didn’t do a good job promoting it, and I could have been home two days ago, but I’ll do the show and it’s my job and I’m lucky to do it. But man, do I want to be home playing with Cal instead. And it’s that feeling of slog, but those moments where you’re like driving overnight to get to a show. Or in your case, where you’re wandering through the woods and it feels like a day where it’s slog, I wonder if you would agree with this of like… It sounds so dismal, but also we’re just animals who are alive until we die some day. And the slog reminds you of that. And it reminds you of that through tedium and through physical discomfort and through all sorts of other emotions that range between negative and neutral. But there’s something so beautiful and freeing about remembering like… I guess I just can walk through the woods and look for water and food and meet up with these two women and just say, Yeah, I guess we’ll walk the whole thing together. This seems like a good fit. And then we’ll go home. And then someday I’ll drop dead. And it doesn’t have to be too much more complicated than that. And that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing. Does that make sense to you or no? I don’t know.
Caller [00:37:55] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I think this is related to that. I think, so like, we’re talking about the drudgery, but there also like… I guess the kind of beauty in those moments of like, is what you’re just saying. Like that there’s a tree. You know, this is the kind of trail I’m sort of walking a riverbed like, I’ve done this like a million times before, but like, this moment is like still unique in its own way. And it’s still kind of special, even though it’s part of this like this drudgery. I just like you say, like, we’re alive. And that’s kind of like, amazing. I do also like, I guess I don’t know if I’ve touched on this, but it’s weird being on the trail where you’re like, this is very privileged to be able to do this. Like it costs like five grand, you know, it’s not like no one’s like, you have to go do this or, you know, just put you in jail.
Chris Gethard [00:38:51] Is that in terms of what, like getting the right gear and the amount you spend on food and lodging along the way, it averages out to five grand?
Caller [00:38:57] Yeah, I’m not sure if that usually- like I was really cheap with gear, like got a bunch of used stuff. I think that applies mostly to just like being on the trail and like, yeah, food, food and lodging.
Chris Gethard [00:39:10] And that’s that’s the cost that you’re spending. And that’s outside of the fact that you are privileged enough to be able to take six months off of work.
Caller [00:39:17] Exactly.
Chris Gethard [00:39:18] And know that you have a system in place where you’ll be able to get back on your feet if you when when you’re done with it.
Caller [00:39:23] Totally.
Chris Gethard [00:39:23] All of those things are luxuries that not everybody has.
Caller [00:39:27] Totally.
Chris Gethard [00:39:28] Yeah. So it makes you realize the privilege.
Caller [00:39:31] Yeah. And it’s an odd because like, there’s this whole culture of trail angels. So these are people who, like some of them, dedicate their lives to going out there and like showing up kind of in the middle of nowhere. And like, there’s a whole, they run the whole gamut where like some of them, like, we experienced this where like you just come up out of the trail to like a dirt road, have like a grill set up, and they’re like making burgers for people.
Chris Gethard [00:39:58] Those people, you must love those people when you run into ’em.
Caller [00:40:01] Yeah, yeah. They’re legends. You’re just like, Oh my god, I’ve been eating ramen for like four days straight and I’m about three hamburgers. This is heaven.
Chris Gethard [00:40:20] OK, what else? What are the other life lessons? And then I have some other questions that are coming to my head that are a little juvenile right now. So simplicity. Privilege, the appreciation of small things. I love all these things that are coming down. I loved all these things coming down the pike at you.
Caller [00:40:39] I think just being around the same people for so long to I just I feel like I’ve grown to just maybe open up more relaxed more and just be more honest. I feel like I in the past, maybe I’ve been more guarded around people and just like, you know, when you’re around someone 10, you know, all day, every day, for months and months, just barriers come down. And I don’t know. Yeah, it’s like it’s just very freeing, I guess.
Chris Gethard [00:41:06] Let me ask you about this. I mentioned I had some juvenile questions tied directly into this, so I’m sure you have some of the you mentioned it was two women, right, who you kind of connected with as your trail buddies. Ultimately, you set out alone. You said at least one of them had friends who bailed. She stuck with it. So I have to imagine you had some of the most meaningful conversations of your life with these people.
Caller [00:41:31] I guess so.
Chris Gethard [00:41:33] Well, when you’re saying you start opening up, barriers start coming down with these people who are strangers at the beginning. There’s also things too, though, of like so like when you link up with them and they’re strangers, and then I’m sure there’s some days where you’re on that third day of ramen and your body goes, Well, now, now you’re going to go have a poop blowout and everybody else is going to have to wait 20 minutes while you sort that out. Like that must be happening in front of strangers, too. There must be moments of intimacy that are. Things that usually in polite society, we hide from each other. How do you get used to those moments around relative strangers?
Caller [00:42:13] Oh yeah. I mean, there was a, I would say was a slow process, but by the end of it seemed like one of the women I worked with. She was like, really not very outdoorsy at all. So like she, she went to try to go poop in the woods the first time, and she was like, My body wouldn’t let me do it. I just couldn’t do it. Well, you don’t have to figure that out. Yes, you die. Yeah. But like by the end, people are just like, I got to poop like, Oh, it’s going to be a bad one. Just give me a couple of minutes. Like, I’ll catch up to you guys or like, this is just like farting on the trail, like around Italia or just like a first you’d like, try to go off the trail for like a ways to pee. And then by the end of it, it’s just sort of like being guys look away is good.
Chris Gethard [00:43:03] And now I feel like there must also be people who have met their partners on the trail. There must be trail hookups. There must be, but there’s also must be creeps looking for that? Yeah, a lot of that, right? Tell me about that.
Caller [00:43:17] Yeah. We met a couple of couples coming north that they had met, and they seem to be getting along pretty well. Is it awesome? There was sort of ratio, at least going south. I think it might be better going north, but it was probably like ten to one meant women going south. So just like the ratios are not correct, I’d say. But yeah, there are certainly people looking for that kind of thing and like. So one story I’ve got is this this one was hiking south and she was very fast. She was taking like 20 miles a day from the start, which is not super normal. So she kind of she caught up with us and she actually had a boyfriend who was hiking the PCT at the same time. I’m not sure why they didn’t take it together, but but then she broke up with him and then within a day, she had a new boyfriend just like surrounded by, you know, people who by a lot in common with, like outdoorsy A. Dudes. And they were at the shelter, you know, camping at the campsite, the shelter and then, for whatever reason, felt the need to have sex just like really, really, really loudly Emotet for like a pretty long time and like surrounded by other people, they were probably like 10, 15 other times. There’s probably 10 people actually like in the shelter. We’re just sort of like hearing this like everyone’s kind of in their tent. So we were like talking, but I’m sure everyone was just like, What is happening with this going on here? And in the morning, I just heard one of the Northland guys just say, play pretty loudly to someone else, like, did you hear the fucking last night? Jesus Christ. And they stayed together. So good for them that, yeah, it’s a success story there. Maybe some some exhibitionism going on there.
Chris Gethard [00:45:23] What’s it like going back to real life when you’re done?
Caller [00:45:25] I wouldn’t say that I’m in real life, but it was. It was very giant. Like, I’m just like staying with family now, but it definitely felt like, uh. I almost felt like almost like an observer. Like, I wasn’t really there. It’s all very disconnected. I’ll say I think it was like just kind of like, you know, these people you spend so much time with and then you’re just like, kind of sever that connection. So I think that was part of it. And then you’re just like, every day is such like, this is like a very defined purpose to the day, like, Oh, OK, we’re going to hike, you know, 50 miles or whatever, and we’re going to camp at the site and then, you know, you know, exactly what’s going to happen for the next couple of days and then you get wet when the trail finishes. It’s very like undefined, you know, so it’s I found it pretty dry and I’m still kind of trying to wrestle with that and say, Yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:46:30] When you say I’m not living real life, does that just mean you haven’t gotten back into the rhythm of it? Or are you someone who doesn’t really want to participate in real life?
Caller [00:46:41] No, I just feel like I’m not. I don’t know. I mean, obviously, I’m like, I’m so like here, but I’m not like, I don’t have like an apartment and a job. And like, I guess what? I’m more like, I haven’t gone back to like a conventional, like, normal life, I guess. Do you have a
Chris Gethard [00:46:57] plan Darryl plan or are you just riding this one out? See what happens?
Caller [00:47:02] Well, my mom. Jesus. Got it. Yeah, I’ve been applying some jobs, got outdoorsy, sort of like wildlife assistant observing kind of stuff. So that would be cool. I have a background in bio that I haven’t really used that much, so it’d be cool to be able to get out there and I’m going to think about it while I was taking. But I have a feeling people might look at doing it or something like, oh, like, that’s go like, maybe be good at the hard part of the job, so. Mm hmm. Well, I guess we’ll see.
Chris Gethard [00:47:47] I mean, I certainly feel like if you interview with someone and find out that they’ve hiked it as well, it might give you a huge in and they must be rooting for you.
Caller [00:47:56] There’s, yeah, totally right.
Chris Gethard [00:47:57] When you and other people have done it, there’s camaraderie there, I bet.
Caller [00:48:00] Yeah. And there are so many people that we meet who are just like hiking or just doing a couple of days. And, you know, they talk about like, Oh yeah, I did it like back in 95 or, you know, I did it a couple of years ago. And it’s, yeah, it’s like me understanding. There are definitely people who didn’t really understand. We knew the same things over and over again. Like so people heading north, they start in like some people starting February, a lot of people starting March. If you’re going south, you can’t really start until June because that’s when Cotard and usually opens. So heading south, you’re just kind of not in the same places, you’re just starting later. So but a lot of hikers would be like, Oh, isn’t it pretty late for people to be hiking on the trail? And I think that for like the 50th time, it’s like, No, it’s all in or people will be like, you have a long way to go, be like, Yeah, yeah, we got it. I’ve done the trail before will be like, But you got this like, I know you’re hating life right now, but you know it’ll get better. Like you come in and out of the Carrillo just like, you know, they they’re the ones who kind of know what to say. That’s always nice, too.
Chris Gethard [00:49:16] Did you ever think about quitting? Were you ever close?
Caller [00:49:19] Oh yeah. Oh yeah. So there, actually, there was a time where I probably would have quit, but the logistics of it were just, like, too annoying to figure out. So like I do, like, like 10 miles back, the way we come to get to the closest road. And I just like, I don’t want to do that. I just want to like, sit down and get like, airlifted out or something. But you know, that’s not really an option.
Chris Gethard [00:49:45] There’s more annoying way to quit than to keep going at that point. That’s the other reason you made it.
Caller [00:49:48] Kind of we kind to talk about that. Yeah, it’s just like, how do you like you have to get to a town that’s like not a normal trail town. It’s just like ugh. But like once, apart of that, why I didn’t quit was like there was this guy who he was like a really, really fast hiker. And he had started in August and he caught up to us and he ended up having to get off trail because his mom, her cancer had come back and they were putting her into hospice, which is brutal. And he I didn’t have the right gear. As it got colder I was just trying to kind of figure it out on the fly. And he ended up giving me his jacket. When he got off. And that was right when I was thinking about quitting. I was just like, ugh, fuck. What do you say to that? You can’t be like, uh sorry dude. Like, I know, like what an amazing gesture, but like, I just don’t… I’m tired, you know?
Chris Gethard [00:50:56] You have to go care for your mom and shepherd her to the next world. And you’re giving me your jacket as a sign of solidarity and hope that a piece of you can continue all the way to the end. But I’m thinking about maybe heading home anyway, so you should find somebody else. You can’t really say that.
Caller [00:51:10] Yeah. Yeah, he’s a really solid dude. And also, I think it just really, really helps to be hiking with other people. Like I don’t- there are people, lots of people who do it every year alone. I just never would have made it. Like it’s it’s just like it’s just having those people every night to talk to. And when you do want to quit, usually and hopefully the other people in the group don’t want to quit. And so they kind of it’s kind of like this balancing thing of like, you try to step out and they kind of reach in and grab you and bring you back in. And so like all of us in the group, we all had our moments. So like, okay, this is super dark. I just want to say that. And when she told me this, she also said she was like, I know this is really dark. But so when that when the guy got off because of his mom having to go into hospice, she was like, you know, this is super dark, but sometimes I wish that something like that would happen to someone in my family so that I’d have like a really good excuse to get off the trail. I was just like, Oh, like, Oh no, that is that is brutal. So, there are definitely some very dark dark moments.
Chris Gethard [00:52:31] You’re also allowed to go home, too.
Caller [00:52:34] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You don’t have to keep doing it.
Chris Gethard [00:52:38] I don’t is my thing. Or like, maybe I’ll just pick up from somewhere around here next year because people do that too. Maybe I just come back and really think about it. Don’t need to pray for suffering off trail. I don’t know if I could do it. I don’t know if I could do it physically or mentally. I don’t know.
Caller [00:52:58] Yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:52:59] It’d certainly messed up my knees, but maybe I’d get used to that. And then emotionally, who wants to deal with me being sad out on the Appalachian Trail? Who wants to deal with that?
Caller [00:53:10] You certainly have plenty of really interesting people to talk to every day, though.
Chris Gethard [00:53:14] Oh that would be- that would be a good Beautiful/ Anonymous live episode, right? Live from the Appalachian Trail. Just with somebody who wandered by. Maybe I should just go set up a table out in like Wawayanda State Park. I think Wawayanda State Park is part of it.
Caller [00:53:30] Yeah.
Chris Gethard [00:53:31] If I just set up a table with a recording rig, do you think people would actually sit down and play ball or would people just keep walking?
Caller [00:53:36] Oh no, for sure. Especially if you had some like.
Chris Gethard [00:53:40] Food.
Caller [00:53:40] Any like some apples or like some.
Chris Gethard [00:53:44] Starburst. If what if I’m like, I’ll give you a starburst.
Caller [00:53:48] Like pizza like fresh food, hot food. People would just be like, Yes, I’ll do- what you want me to say? Like, I’ll say anything.
Chris Gethard [00:53:56] And how how like is there a chance I could go out there and try to do something like that and it would just happen to be a day where no one would come by? Or is there enough traffic that you’re going to get one or two people if you’re out there for a few hours?
Caller [00:54:07] Oh, it would depend on the time of year, but like there’s a certain time of year in Jersey where all the northbounders, they call it the bubble, um and it gets kind of spread out by by then, for sure. But like there would be a certain time of year where like yeah, you would for sure, you’d see probably like 20 or 30 people every day.
Chris Gethard [00:54:26] I gotta get out there with some pizza. Support everybody. Say, welcome to New Jersey. I would do it.
Caller [00:54:31] They would love you. I was actually going through Jersey, they call it deli blazing. So there’s it’s pretty close enough to all these different towns where you can actually, like, hike a half mile off trail and there’ll be like some kind of deli and you can order a couple of sandwiches and get back on trail instead of having to, like, go to the supermarket and get everything for, like three or four days. Like almost every day, you can get off and get sandwiches.
Chris Gethard [00:54:56] So the trail, the trail hikers, they like Jersey in general. This is not just you being like, oh I was pleasantly surprised. Like Jersey has a good reputation among the trail people?
Caller [00:55:05] Yeah. I would say so, in terms of like that kind of thing. Like it’s not known for being like the most amazing views and the most amazing nature, but it’s got like it’s got that charm to it of like- it’s- kind of what happens is like you after I would say, if you’re going north, after Virginia, you’re not getting so much like amazing nature so it turns into more like cultural stuff. Like there’s like this nudist colony in Pennsylvania that a lot of people go to. And there’s like a haunted hotel. And there’s this there’s like this cult that runs this free hostel that people go to that’s like, you know, super weird. And there’s like a cool drive in movie theater that they camp there and they give you a little radio to watch the movie. So anyway, it’s like kind of in the same vein as like that kind of stuff is like the deli blazing it’s sort of like, oh this is sweet. Like it’s it’s maybe not what you might imagine if you’re not familiar with the AT, but it’s like a cool kind of quirky part of the trail.
Chris Gethard [00:56:13] I like that. I feel like in general that matches the bigger picture. Like eh Jersey. Like, it’s not the prettiest place but you can get a real good fucking sandwich. Like, I feel like that’s that’s kind of true in general about Jersey. Kinda true in general. Well, I love it. And what were you- so you’re not sure what you’re going to do now. Crashing with family. You’ve made a joke about how your mom is maybe saying it’s time to make a plan, what’s the plan? How’s that go-? And before you had a job? So how much do you think this has kind of pushed a reset button on your life? And how much do you think it’s just a cool thing that you’ll always be able to say that you did? How much of it is hard to predict?
Caller [00:56:53] Yeah, I would say. I mean, I guess kind of like I was saying, I’m still sort of like unpacking. But I definitely don’t- like I talk to people who were like, I planned my whole future out on a trip on the trail. And like, I followed it and that’s what I’m doing now. And I definitely do not feel like that.
Chris Gethard [00:57:13] How old are you?
Caller [00:57:15] Oh, sorry, go ahead?
Chris Gethard [00:57:15] How old are you?
Caller [00:57:18] I’m 35.
Chris Gethard [00:57:19] Oh, yeah. OK.
Caller [00:57:20] Yeah, it’s like kind of time to like figure shit out.
Chris Gethard [00:57:25] But you’re also not young enough to go out there and be like, you’re not going to like- someone who’s 23 or 24 might be in a phase life where it’s like, let’s make some decisions about how to start. You’ve lived a fair amount of adult life already before getting out there. That’s not that’s not where you were at heading into it, necessarily either.
Caller [00:57:42] True. Yeah. And I think unfortunately, it’s like I’ve kind of followed this pattern of like, I’ll work for six months and then I’ll like spend all that money traveling because I’ll just be like, I can’t do this job anymore. And then I’ll be like, OK, now I need money and I’ll go take another kinda terrible job. This like cycle. And in a way, I guess it’s just kind of just that cycle. But I do feel like I’ve grown in ways that maybe I’m not totally aware of. I guess also like the way that I am aware of in terms of just like really, really having to work hard and stick with something, even when maybe you really, really want to quit, like maybe you have to stay at that shitty job for like longer than six months and don’t just like pull the ripcord and go to India or wherever, you know? Like…
Chris Gethard [00:58:36] I don’t know. I feel like there’s a lot of people listening going, no fuck that. I want to go to India. There’s a lot of people going, no, no. The opposite. People probably jealous to hear that you’ve gone on some of these adventures. Was India theoretical or is that another adventure you just kind of went and randomly did?
Caller [00:58:52] India was a real adventure that turned into much more of an adventure because that was in February 2020. So I got locked down in India. It was just like a whole different thing.
Chris Gethard [00:59:01] And India was pretty scary I hear?
Caller [00:59:03] So this was it wasn’t when India went like they had a really, really high case count later. But in the initial part, they actually didn’t didn’t explode, which I guess no one really knows why, but it was definitely the fear. Like they, you know, it’s really high density cities and not great health care. So that’s like, very worrisome. I was like out in this jungle. So that was I was not as worried about that, but it’s just so bizarre to be there like as Covid started when I was like, I don’t know, like, I was probably like, definitely overreacting, but I- like is society like crumbling? Like I had pretty bad internet connection. Like, I was like, do I just like live in India now? Like, what are we doing here?
Chris Gethard [00:59:52] So we only have two and a half minutes left, so India is another adventure you went on. Appalachian Trail. Bullet points. What are some other adventures that you’ve worked for six months and said, Screw it, I have to go do something cool? And what are the other cool things? I’ve heard about the trail. I’ve heard about India. What else?
Caller [01:00:08] Um, so I did five month road trip with a friend around the US. And then I did three months living out of like a tiny hatchback car around the US. And three months backpacking around Central America.
Chris Gethard [01:00:27] Damn. That’s pretty fucking cool, man.
Caller [01:00:29] So yeah, I mean, they’re awesome. It’s like you meet people out there who are like- you meet the craziest people. Like when I was in India, there was a woman who had traveled to India from Germany, overland, like just like going from country to country, taking trains and busses. And there was a couple that I met in Moab. They were from Holland and they had biked from Holland to like Vietnam. And it took them like a year and a half. And they were in the process in Moab they were biking from Canada to Mexico. Just like, what are these people doing?
Chris Gethard [01:01:09] But you’re that to most of us. You’re them. The way you react to them, that’s how most of us react to you.
Caller [01:01:16] Yeah well so okay like yeah, it’s it’s been amazing. But at the same time, it’s like you- I just don’t, like, you can’t live your life like that forever I feel like.
Chris Gethard [01:01:27] Then why are you? Then why are you?
Caller [01:01:31] Because I feel like I just haven’t figured out what to do instead. So I guess that’s what I was talking about in terms of like sticking with some shitty job while trying to figure out like a sustainable way to like find something better that I actually enjoy doing. I don’t know. I’ve always been into tons of different creative stuff. Like I really want to, a lot a lot like on the hike we talked about writing a musical about the hike and about all the characters and kind of the struggle of it. So that’s kind of a project I’ve been working on on the side.
Chris Gethard [01:02:08] Writing a musical about the Appalachian Trail. It’s a hell of a bomb to drop with eight seconds left.
Caller [01:02:14] Yeah, we kind of- I didn’t realize how we were running out of time there. I don’t know, man.
Chris Gethard [01:02:20] But hold on because I feel like I feel like we just threw huge amounts of gasoline in like the last five minutes. And I have one big question I got to ask. One big one because I won’t forgive myself if I don’t know. Some of this, so you’re talking about how you’re like a wanderer, but maybe flummox yourself a little bit… But I think for a lot of us, it’s not the job that keeps us from going on the big adventures. It’s the people in our lives, right? It’s the significant others. It’s the families. It’s that. So where’s your life out with that stuff? Because that that is an anchor that I think about where I go I’d love to go live out of a hatchback for three months at a time, but I got people I love I can’t be away from for three months. And you say you have family and it sounds like your mom gives you the business, but you’ve mentioned that. So relationships wise, where are you at? Because that’s the other piece of the puzzle that I need to know about before I let you off the phone.
Caller [01:03:17] Yeah, I was in a long term relationship for about six years, and we broke up a couple of years ago, kind of because I was still working these terrible jobs. And she was like, you know, she talked about how it made her anxious, like really anxious, seeing me kind of flailing. And since then, I haven’t been in any meaningful relationships. And I do feel like- I definitely have friends, but I feel like I don’t have a really strong community, which is something that kind of before the pandemic started, I was like, I really want to kind of like that feels good to try to think about being rooted somewhere and developing that. Like, I feel like that as sort of like a almost like a hunger inside, you know? Like, I feel like there were people that I met traveling, like a lot of people who are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and they’re just kind of like lonely and kind of lost. And I think there’s always that balance between like freedom and loneliness, and they kind of made their choice I guess. Or it’s just kind of what happened. And it feels like, you know, maybe that’s a future me and it worries me for sure. So I feel like I I definitely do want to try to focus on- separate from like having a job that I care about, like the- I definitely want and need to have a strong community. And then on top of that, I would love to have, you know, a meaningful romantic relationship as well as um yeah just other meaningful relationships. So, yeah, I guess the answer is I I don’t have too much of that right now. I certainly have family around. That’s a whole other story. There’s there’s lots and lots of family issues, but they definitely love me and I love them. And so, yeah, but I don’t know if that answered that.
Chris Gethard [01:05:45] Well, you’re one of those people who I find very lovely in life, but also confounding where it’s like, there’s no answer that doesn’t lead to more questions. And it’s- that’s real.
Caller [01:05:54] Yeah. Oh, sorry, I was going to say I really loved listening to the really long conversations you had with those two people. And I was like, I was like, That’s so cool that they can just kind of like, maybe meander a little more and there’s there’s just plenty of time. But you know, I understand that it’s not the-
Chris Gethard [01:06:15] Well, much like you did in your months out on the trail, we covered a lot of ground here today. And I feel very lucky that I got to talk to you. I’ve always been fascinated by the experience of walking the trail. And then I also feel like we got into some of your, some your personality about what what drove the whole thing. So thanks for filling me in and thanks for opening up, letting your guard down and telling me these stories.
Caller [01:06:37] Yeah, well, thanks. Just I listen, I listen to podcasts a lot, and I just want to say like, it’s like you’re doing an amazing thing and it’s a really it’s it’s kind of like it’s an honor to be able to participate in it and just kind of share all of this stuff.
Chris Gethard [01:06:57] It’s an honor for me every time I get to do it. It’s an honor for me. So thank you so much.
Caller [01:07:01] Thanks. And you should definitely get out there and do the trail magic. That that would blow their minds, that they’re like, Wait, what’s going on?
Chris Gethard [01:07:09] Maybe I’ll go. Maybe I’ll head out to the jersey section of it. Maybe I’ll head out to the jersey section of see if I can meet some people this year. Who knows?
Caller [01:07:17] That would be cool.
Chris Gethard [01:07:19] Thanks so much for talking.
Caller [01:07:21] Cool. Thank you so much, Chris. Take care.
Chris Gethard [01:07:27] Caller, thanks so much for calling. Staying safe. For remembering so much. Telling the story. I can’t wait to hear about Appalachian Trail the Musical, I hope that it’s a huge smash Broadway success someday. It will be, I’ll help-if you ever want to do it in New York, let me know. I’ll see if I can help, help you debut it out there. Thank you so much to Anita Flores for producing the show. Thank you to Marcus Hahm and Jared O’Connell for your engineering talents. Our theme song is by Shellshag. Go to ChrisGeth.com if you want to know more about me. Wherever you’re listening there’s a button that says subscribe or favorite or follow, something like that. You know it’s there. When you hit that button, oh good lord does it help us. So please do so. You can find all of our merch at PodSwag.com. There’s mugs, there’s shirts, there’s posters and more. And you can get ad free episodes of Beautiful/ Anonymous and tons of other shows over at Stitcher premium. Use the promo code story for one month free trial at Stitcher.com/premium. (THEME SONG)
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