Long shares stories from his 6 months on the Appalachian Trail at Rotary

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moose, spiders and bears — oh my!

Tuesday’s Rotary Club meeting featured guest speaker Ashley Long, one of the three Bainbridge residents to have completed the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail.

Long, who was called Four Beard during the hike, completed the six-month trek in 2011 with a man from Maine named Cody, known as Coyote to the hikers. Long intended to complete the hike solo, but ended up completing the entire trail with Cody.

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“You learn what’s really important: hot showers, love from family, a good pillow and 12 hours of sleep, stretching, clean socks, zero days, pork chops, staying positive, conversations at the dinner table and good friends,” Long said.

Long shared some of the lingo the hikers use while one the trail:

–       Section hiker: someone who only hikes a section of the trail

–       Flip flopper: someone who starts one direction and then decides to go the other direction

–       NoBos: North bounders

–       SoBos: South bounders

–       MUDs: mindless ups and downs

–       Zero days: days when a hiker does not walk

–       Turtling: what hikers call it when one falls down on their backpack

–       Privy: essentially an outhouse, there is nothing but a hole in the ground and a toilet seat

–       Trail angels: volunteers such as Boy Scouts or church groups who pass out food along the trail

Some nights the hikers stayed in three-walled shelters, which were best on nights it was rainy, Long said. However, he preferred his one-person tent because it kept out bugs and mosquitoes.

Long survived off of high calorie food and quick meals.

Hikers have to tie their food up in a bear bag and hang it in a tree to prevent bears from taking it. Long saw almost 20 bears during his time on the trail.

One night, Long encountered a bear that was trying to get another hiker’s food. He heard the bear scratching at the tree the food was tied in and it started climbing. The bear made it all the way up to the food bag and clawed it down.

While venturing through Virginia, Long took a pit stop in Washington D.C. to sight see a little.

“At the capitol, I had my backpack on and the beard. A cop rode right up to me and asked me what I was doing. I said I was hiking the trail. I told him I wasn’t a terrorist. He was a nice guy; he let me go,” Long said.

The Long and Cody had to make a detour when Hurricane Irene hit the Northeast. They stayed with Cody’s parents in Maine for a few days before returning to finish the last leg of the trail.