Comment from Betsy: I can't believe I'm asking this, but do you ever wish you had a hiking partner? I'm a 57 year old retired therapist whose motto is “too many trails, too little time!”
Liles: Hi Betsy. Hiking partners are always welcome, but a compatible hiking partner is tricky to find because of individual hiking paces. I would suggest that you explore the website http://www.whiteblaze.com and advertise your availability and sections you are interested in hiking.
Comment from Randy: How many married couples thru-hike the A.T.?
Potteiger: Randy, A significant number of couples do hike the A.T. Every year, there are perhaps a dozen, including some who thru-hike the A.T. as a honeymoon. There's a great book for couples who are contemplating a thru-hike called Solemates--Lessons on Life, Love & Marriage from the Appalachian Trail.
Comment from Steve: Joe, What was your most memorable experience while on the A.T.? Any random acts of kindness that really stood out for you?
Liles: Definitely, Steve. There were so many it is hard to pick one. Mt first encounter with "trail magic" was from Fishin' Fred when I crossed over from Georgia in North Carolina. Fishin' Fred had set up a camp to fix breakfast for thru-hikers. He did this because he was injured and rescued at that same spot several years before. He decided to devote the rest of his life to returning that act of kindness. He fixed me a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs, and coffee that I will never forget.
Comment from Craig: How often do the thru hikers stay in motels during their trip?
Potteiger: It depends on their budget. Those who can afford it stay in hotels as frequently as they can. That would be about once a week in the more remote sections of the A.T. (the South and far North), and twice or more often a week in the middle of the Trail. Those on a budget might have to stick to bunks in hostels.
Pauley: Joe, explain to people a little bit about trail names. For instance, were there fellow hikers who knew you as ‘Braid’ on the trail who might have learned your name, ‘Joe’ for the first time this morning on the Today Show?
Liles: Jane, you can give yourself a trail name, or you can wait for other hikers to give you one because of something you do, say, or resemble. I got the name "Braid" because of the long braid I wear. It is very likely that hikers learned my real name on the Today Show for the first time.
Comment from Sue (“Check 6”): My husband and I met Joe on the AT last year. The video interview is fabulous! Joe is a wonderful guy and the interview highlights his attributes well.
Comment from Steve: Laurie, I love hiking the Appalachian Trail and I always wanted to give back to it somehow. What can I do to help?
Comment from Coit: I'm Joe's twin brother and I am envious of his great adventure. Like Joe, obviously, I am now facing the issue of what to do with myself after 30 years of being consumed (happily) by my career. So I take heart from his experience that there will be something -- maybe not walking 2000 miles -- to look forward to. Congratulations, Joe.
Liles: Coit, it's great to hear from you. My response is don't let the trauma of feeling bewildered in facing the uncertainties of retirement get you down. I learned on the trail not to be discouraged by the uncertainties of the next day. We had an expression, "The trail will provide." What this means is if you remain optimistic, you will be shown the way.