Cay Query Lodine, Phil Lodine, my husband Nat Eddy, and me, halfway through our AT thru-hike, at ATC headquarters, Harpers Ferry, WV, June 22, 1987

This year marks 24 years since the summer we—Cay, Phil, Nat, and I—hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Over the weekend (June 10-12, 2011), my husband Nat and I crashed a 30-year reunion of A.T. hikers on Squam Lake, New Hampshire. Actually, they invited us, and it turned out we’re all the same age, more or less. They did the trail in their early 20s; we were late 20s/early 30s when we broke away from bad jobs and uprooted for four and a half months in 1987.

By stunning coincidence, a few days before we left for New Hampshire, we heard from Brian “Just Brian” Dickson, one of our good thru-hiker friends from 1987. He’d found me through this website. Brian has been living in New Mexico for the past several years, mostly off the grid, and we had lost touch with him.

The 1981 group gathering at Rockywold-Deephaven Camps numbered a dozen or so men and women. Some husbands and wives who’d hiked sections or other years also came. Either John Smith or Peter Meitzler included, in their slide shows, scans of old Poloroids the Appalachian Trail Conference (now Conservancy) staffers had taken of them as they passed through the ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The photos came from a database going back to 1979 maintained by the Appalachian Trail Museum. There’s a photo on this database of every thru-hiker and section-hiker who passed through their headquarters.

I don’t even remember our photo being taken, but after Peter’s slide show, I went online and found ours. It’s here on this page.

I think we look very nerdy, sort of like the New Christy Minstrels or something, sitting on the step. Obviously we’d taken showers at the KOA Campground where we’d spent the previous night. We had walked into town the day before, June 21, and after the photo we left for the next 1,000 miles or so. I’m leaning on a new pack I’d bought just a few weeks before to replace one that was giving me back pain. I loved that North Face internal frame pack and used it until it disintegrated in the late 1990s.

By this past Saturday night, several others from other years joined the A.T. reunion group for dinner and more photos and stories. They included John Hansen from 1988, Charles Dona from 1995, and a 1973 veteran. Talk and memories came easily. We hiked up Rattlesnake Mountain, Mount Percival, and Mount Morgan. We played Frisbee golf and ping-pong and took a boat tour.

Thanks to Marcia Sanderson, I realized how much I want to go back to playing the piano. The baby grand my father bought for the family sits in my living room. I’m going to go back to the keyboard.

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