So, what does hiking the Appalachian Trail have to do with gravity? That is actually pretty easy to answer. My number one enemy while hiking was mosquitos ... they chewed me up alive. The number two problem, however, was gravity! The views from the top may be spectacular but in order to get there you have to fight gravity. Climbing to what seemed like every major mountain peak in the Appalachian mountain range is exhausting and there were many days I was cursing gravity for making it so tough!
Of course it isn't only the up-hill parts of the hike which gravity plays a role. The down-hill portions can be troublesome too. On April 6, 1997 I was somewhere in the region following the North-Carolina/Tennessee border. It had rained that day but nothing to really complain about. I was making good time, and looking forward to arriving at a shelter for the night, so I could have my dinner. Dinner was always my favorite part of the day. Anyhow, I was coming down a hill on the trail when I stepped on a wet log. For those who don't know (including me on that day), wet logs are very slippery. So, I suppose you could partly blame the rain or even the log for my fall, but it was definitely gravity that caused my bruise.
As far as falling goes, things actually went pretty well. I landed in a push-up type of position. The problem was that I was facing down-hill ... and I was carrying a loaded pack. For a short time during my fall, my arms were able to hold me up. The damage control was working pretty well. Did I mention I was carrying a loaded pack, though? Sure enough, as soon as I thought I had everything under control, the entire weight of my pack suddenly shifted directly over my head. The result was a big welt on my forehead.
Gravity definitely taught me a thing or two that day. No matter where you go, and no matter what you do, it is always there waiting for you to make a mistake! I am sure my parents must have loved the picture when I sent it back to them.
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