A Walk In the Woods - Hiking the AT with Nova Rayne Boone

Editors Note
This is a direct transcription of Nova Rayne Boone’s journal. Absolutely no changes were made.

Entry One
Hello! I’m Nova Rayne Knightley, Bill Bryson’s hiking scribe (strange job, I know. But it’s a side thing and a great excuse to get a break from doing criminal profilings and go hiking) . I’ll be doing the on-site writing and things on this expedition on the Appalachian Trail, and Bryson will be writing his own book later, if he survives this expedition. I’m writing in case we both die. Happy thought, right? But death is a real danger on the Appalachian Trail. A few ways to die are: wolves, wild boars, fire ants, bears, wild fires, falling into a body of water and drowning, apparently murder ( Bryson did a lot of reading on this trail and several people have been murdered along this trail), bears, falling off a cliff, a falling tree, starvation, various diseases such as Lyme disease, giardiasis, and several more that Bryson will talk about in his book. He says that we shouldn’t think too much about death, and should focus more on surviving. Speaking of which, he needs me to help set up his fancy cooking stove and tent. We need to get the hang of it done before we actually go hiking.

Back. Bryson is very serious about this whole hiking thing. He told me that the entire trail is between 2,118.3 miles and 2,200 miles long, depending on who you ask or what book you read. One thing that’s for sure is what states the trail goes through. Here is the list: Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia,Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine (not in that order).
He also spent a few hundred dollars on hiking equipment, such as: a three-season tent, a self-inflating sleeping pad, nested pots and pans (I think these are the coolest things ever!), collapsible silverware (so cool!), two plastic dishes and cups (actually he bought one dish and one cup and I had to buy the others because when he bought everything I wasn’t going to go hiking with him), a pump-action water purifier, several stuff sacks of various colors (what he plans to use them for I have no idea), a seam sealer, a patching kit, a sleeping bag (I brought my own sleeping bag that my uncle gave me. He used to go hiking on mountains, so I know I’ll be warm in this sleeping bag), bungee cords, water bottles, a waterproof poncho (I have a waterproof jacket, though the poncho is smaller and lighter...), a collapsible stove ( Bryson says it has ‘trouble’ written all over it), a gas bottle plus a spare, waterproof matches, a backpack cover, a compass and thermometer keyring ( Bryson says this is the ‘niftiest thing ever’), a miner's helmet (the kind with the light on top. Bryson loves this item a lot. I only brought a waterproof flashlight), a big knife (‘for killing bears and hillbillies’ as Bryson says), insulated long johns and undershirts, bandanas and lots of other stuff.
I can’t believe I named all this stuff when I could be talking about more interesting things like the absolute locations of the starting and ending points of the AT! Only... Bryson never told me the coordinates of longitude and latitude of the beginning and ending points of the trail... I’ll have to see if I can find them for you guys. Well, I better get going now. I plan on getting as much sleep as possible before the trip.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Two
Hello! Just got back the airport. We had to go pick up Katz. I don’t know if Bryson was more surprised to hear that Katz wanted to go with Bryson or more surprised to actually see him. Katz is very... er... fluffy. Plump. Ready to burst. Coming apart at the seams. I don’t think this is a good idea for Katz to go hiking and running from bears for a few months. Then again, he may lose all the... fluff and realize that he needs to keep off the fluff and go hiking more often. Or he might die of heart attack or something fluff-inflicted. I’m worried about Katz and am not looking forwards to the trip as much anymore. Unless Katz chickens out and leaves, then I will be happy again. Bryson is pretty fit and knows what he’s dealing with. Katz is a fluffy ex-druggie and ex-alcoholic. I’m not looking forwards to hiking with Katz. At least bears and wolves will see him as an easier target and go after him instead of Bryson and me. Bears will be a challenge. Though on one of my travels we came across a mother bear escaped from a zoo and we we able to get really close before the family ambled off. But that was really special circumstances.
On a happier note, I am quite looking forwards to the sights and sounds of the Appalachian trail. I think Bryson is also looking forwards to spending time in this dwindling, dying ecosystem. Uh oh, Katz is making lots of noise in his room.... I should go check it out, make sure he isn’t breaking anything or hurting himself. Until next time!
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Three

I cannot BELIEVE Katz threw out all that food! Now we have barely anything and we JUST got on the actual trail. And he lags ssoo far behind. Like Bryson, I’m not too hungry or tired, but I sure am angry at Katz. I can’t wait to get home and tell his family he got eaten by a bear. Which he probably will. And then Bryson and I will die of starvation because the bears will take what food was in Katz’s backpack when they kill him.

You know, when I was fourteen I climbed up, down and around Enchanted Rock in Texas. On the way down, starting to go around I fell directly on my tailbone. But I kept on going, even when I couldn’t feel my butt anymore and my lower back really really hurt. Yeah, I didn’t want to go rock climbing after that, but I still pushed through and didn’t complain for the rest of the hike. And guess what? By the time we got back to where the cars and picnic tables were, I was pretty much fine. I think Katz can simply walk for a few days. Oh, Katz can be seen on the horizon. Bryson says it’s time to keep walking. See ya!
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Four

Bryson told be today that only 2 percent of America is classified as built up. Isn’t that amazing? Oh, and the Forest Service build roads and allows people to mine, drill oil, log, build ski resorts, extract natural gas, and several other things. And did you know that there are 378,000 miles of roads in America’s forests? And all of it is built, owned and operated by the Forest Service. Bryson says that’s eight times the total mileage of the USA’s interstate highway system. Sorry if I’m writing things I little mixed up, my brain is going faster than my hand! Anyway, The Forest Service also has the second largest number of road engineers of any government institution in the world.

Want some more sad statistics about the Forest Service? Of all the land it owns, it allows one third of it to be clear-cut. A recent example is 209 acres of thousand-year-old red oaks in Oregon’s Umpqua National Forest. And in 1987 it said that it would allow private timber companies to cut down hundreds of acres of land for ‘science’. Bryson calls it ‘rape’ because they are taking advantage of the land and doing it no good. By cutting down all those trees, hundreds of animals lose their homes and food supplies. Some die, some migrate. The ones who migrate then have to compete with the animals that have been living there all their lives for food and shelter. I do agree with Bryson. What the forest service is doing is essentially ‘rape’.

Katz is within yelling earshot. Time to start walking again.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Five

I don’t think it was fair for Bryson and Katz - okay, I was involved too - to ditch Mary Ellen like that. I mean, she was annoying and loud and kinda mean, but she just wanted company. Though, she could’ve just brought her own friends or family, with her. Unless none of them wanted to go with her (for obvious reasons) or if she didn't have any friends.... Aww... that’s a sad thought...

I just realized you probably don’t know who Mary Ellen is, huh? She is another hiker we came across. She decided to hang with us. Mary Ellen is not afraid to speak her mind and be blunt about it. She called Bryson and Katz overweight pussies. And she had to clear her ears pretty often, which was loud and annoying. The boys didn’t like her at all, but they never told her to leave. Then Bryson decided we should walk as fast as we could to leave her behind until we got to the next highway, where we would hitchhike to the nearest town with a motel and spend the night there. The plan worked.

I was really nice to her. I actually listened to her and tried to nicely tell her when she upset Bryson or Katz. Of course, she just insisted she was telling the truth. I would just shrug and say ‘I know, but it still upset them’. Then she would shrug and clear her ears.

Because I was so nice to her, Mary Ellen would sometimes share her food with me. The boys would just stare, their expressions asking me how I got on her awesome side. I would just give them a big smile and a shrug before digging in. I sometimes wondered how she carried all that food... she was just to determined and - Nevermind, we just got word that she dropped out and went home. Apparently, she got blisters after trying to do thirty-five miles in two days. Maybe she was a little bit too determined to walk the AT as fast as possible.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Six

Wow... distance... What is that? I have never been so confused on this concept... I mean, sometimes one mile feels like a few feet and vice versa... I think that I have never really thought about distance this way. Probably because Bryson is the only person to have brought it up. You see, he had a whole fit with the map of the AT because side trails are left off, it looks like a road starts and ends in the middle of nowhere, and according to the map scale kilometer of the trail is one centimeter on the map. Bryson finds it extremely annoying. And it is. Like, entire towns just off the edge of the map have no indication as to where they are. That small detail could be the difference between life and death to many hikers. Plus, it cost Bryson $11, which is already a lot for a map anyway, but a map that’s useless? Simply absurd. Well, okay, the map is of some use, but not a lot.

You know, according to this map scale and key, one inch is just about a mile. And in this snow, it could take us hours to get through one mile... Oh, forgot to mention, we are in a dingy little bunk house thing. Smells horrible. Looks horrible. I can’t wait to leave. Actually, a hiker that is going to town to rent a minivan and is offering rides to Franklin, the nearest town, for $5, but he offered me a special discount. Free! I’m not going to tell Katz or Bryson... It would upset them. But I also got the guy’s number, so that’s a plus!

One last thing, to end on a good note. There might be blizzards in the coming days, but after that it’s supposed to get warmer, with means the snow will melt! I can’t wait, and I don’t think Bryson can either.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Seven

I think it’s very nice that Bryson wants to see the salamanders and mussels of the Smokies. I am very excited to see any form of wildlife, especially babies and their mothers. I would also like to see a mussel, because most are endangered and some are extinct. Bryson blames the National Park Service, because in the first 50 years the Bryce Canyon National Park was owned by National Park Service, seven species went extinct there. Those seven species had thrived in the millions and millions of years before the National Park Service owned that land. 42 species of mammals have disappeared from national parks in the last century. I think the National Park Service had something to do with that. Not to mention the time we discovered and killed a new species at the same time. I really think that the government should pay attention to this. I know the gov have other worries, like debt and medical care and things, but what about the animals? If they can’t fix anything else, they should at least protect the animals in our national parks.

Anyway, like Bryson, I also had fun being on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s not everyday you can be in two states at once! It’s really amusing, and entering another state is quite the rewarding experience. But, we are also hiking through the Smokies, so we are always going up and down and sideways and through valleys and things. You know, a topographical map and/or a contour map would be very useful in these mountains. That way we could compare it to the AT map and we would know if we should expect a steep or shallow hike that day, and how high we might get that day. That information will be very useful when there is or will be bad weather, so we will know how far to go instead of just going until we can’t go anymore.

Note to self: in next town get a topographical map and/or a contour map.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Eight

I think Gatlinburg was a nice little town. For tourists. Well, I mean, any town with a motel and a place that serves food is at least okay. But it is really for tourists, hence all the gift shops and things tourists need or want. Wow, now that I’m really thinking about Gatlinburg, I don’t really have an opinion of it. It’s just... okay... and that’s it.

One thing I do have opinion of though is what Bryson said when he saw the huge map the AT. The map was six inches wide and four feet tall. According to that map, we had only walked two inches. All the miles, days and sleepless night added up to two inches on this huge map. It was really discouraging for Bryson. He decided we would find a way to go to Virginia, skipping the trail in between. But before he decided we should do that, he wanted to just go home. His logic was probably ‘We experienced all there is to experience, so let’s go home’. I convinced him that we could make it to Maine, but he still wanted to hitchhike or ride in a cab or something to Virginia. It was kind of a compromise, in a way.

I really do think we will make it to Maine. Lots of people have, and Bryson bought all that equipment to go the entire way. That’s one of the things I told him to convince him to at least try to make it to Maine. Plus, the AT will never be in the condition it is now ever again. At this rate, it will only get worse. If we want to see all the animal life we can, we can’t give up.

Got to go, it’s time to get out of the cab.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Nine

I hate how we humans think we can just tear down an entire forest and build buildings and destroy the ecosystem. But that’s what we do. It even has a fancy name: Urbanization. Another term quite like urbanization is ‘suburban sprawl’, the sprawling of suburbs across what was once forests.

You know, I think that everyone is better off living in a rural area than in an urban area. In a rural area, you are more likely to grow your own food, which means so insecticides, no growth hormones, and a lot less processed edible items that resemble food. Food you grow yourself is a lot healthier for you, and you will feel and look better. Also, you will be away from the loud noises of the city, away from the pesky neighbors that think your yard isn’t green enough. Also, in rural areas, you usually have large properties that your house is on, so you can have lots of animals and space for your children to play instead of watching TV.

And that concludes today’s entry.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Ten

The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was a 200 year old tree sitting above a little creek on a school field trip. Elementary school, I believe. It was like a fairytale. A huge, old tree with a gnarled, rough trunk leaning over a creek. All the other trees seemed to fade into the background, and the sunlight came through the canopy just right, so it appeared to be around just the one tree.

This trip has really made me appreciate nature. Especially with Bryson telling me all about the history of the AT and lots of cool things about trees and the National Park Service. When I get back home, I will make it a point to sit outside and read for at least thirty minutes a day. And I will enjoy it and I will pass on that enjoyment to my children. One day, we won’t have the nature we have today. So we have to enjoy it now.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Eleven

I cannot believe that so many people believe that hiking the AT is crazy and insane. Course, if I wasn’t making any money doing this I wouldn’t be here, but I wouldn’t think it’s crazy. Something not many people want to do? Yeah. Something impossible to do? No. But I can kind of understand why they might think that walking the entire AT is crazy. Apparently, the average American only walks about mile a day. That’s about seven miles a week. About 30 or 31 miles a month. So we, on the AT, are walking up to the same amount the average American walks in a month, in a day. That is crazy.

I remember once I looked up my address on walkscore.com. The score was 65. Somewhat walkable. Which is pretty good, considering I live a few houses down from a very busy street that only has a sidewalk on one side of the road. You know, I have never understood that. It would be a lot easier to walk and bike places if there were sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of the road all the time. That would also keep the pedestrians safer because they wouldn’t be right alongside the cars. If I ever find a way to have an influence on a city planner, I would find a way to make them do that. I would also have them put in crosswalks at every intersection, small or big, quiet or busy. That would be very useful.

Another thing that would be useful is good flashlights with long lasting batteries. I say this because Bryson and I think there was two bears in our camp last night, but we couldn’t see them because Bryson’s flashlight died and we couldn’t use the miner’s lamp-hat because we wanted to save the battery. It was really scary, and Katz didn’t react at all! I am actually glad we only saw the animal’s eyes. Maybe that means it didn’t see us. And hopefully it won’t come back!
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Twelve

I cannot believe those stupid, rude people who just came in and took over the shelter. I mean really. It’s not like there wasn’t enough space there for everyone. The shelters are supposed to be able to hold up to ten people, and there was only eight. (Nine. Forgot to count myself.) And who in the world gets drunk in the middle of a forest? There is no way anyone with half a brain would even bring booze on a hiking trip.

I also cannot believe how close we came to fighting over the space. Bryson, Katz and I almost burst with anger. Eventually Katz announced we were going to pitch our tents outside and they had to avert their eyes because Bryson had to get dressed again in wet clothes, as Katz so thoughtfully noted. They, of course, just looked away. Didn’t protest or insist we stay in or anything. And they just shoved our things aside for theirs and were as loud as can be all night long.

What would the world be like if the Earth reached it’s carrying capacity? Strange jump, I know, but the fight we almost had at the shelter was due to the scarcity of the shelter. I mean, there wasn’t enough shelter for all of us. In the animal kingdom, creatures will kill over a prime piece of territory that holds shelter, food, and possible mates. They will also kill over food and water when those things are scarce. Humans are animals too, and so we are prone to doing that when we need to survive. You wouldn’t think that would happen, but it does. Ever seen ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’? In some cases, they almost eat each other, or they do eat the ones that didn’t make it. Just because they need to survive, and there is no other food source. Can you imagine that? Being forced to kill and eat or eat a dead human... Animals do that though. Back when dinosaurs roamed, mother T-rexes sometimes ate their young if they couldn’t catch or find something themselves. But they only ate the ones that probably wouldn’t have made it anyway.

Back to my question: If we ever reached Earth’s carrying capacity, what would happen? How long would we go before we turned to killing each other? Not very long, according to a lot of movies. I think that first people wouldn’t believe it, then raids would start when we realized it was true. Stores would be destroyed as people tried to get all they could in a very disorderly fashion. Then water would run out and so would the power, so we would all be dirty, thirsty and in the dark. All during this people would start killing each other for food, even more so as more and more resources dried up. Eventually we would all kill each other off or devolve into primal creatures as the cities and all man-made things crumbled to dust.

That was depressing... I am going to go to sleep now. Even Bryson is done reading. That is a sure sign that I have stayed up too late!
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Thirteen

Katz, Bryson and I all parted ways today. Bryson’s wife and kids came to pick us up from a motel in Front Royal. When they picked us up I almost cried, seeing Bryson’s kids greet him like that. I don’t have any kids, I only a pitbull named Devik and a husky named North to keep me company at home (I will put pictures of them in the appendix), and my sister Safina and brother Christopher when they visit from England. While I can’t wait to see my baby puppies and my family (I am expecting to see them before we get back on the trail), I also can’t wait to get back on the AT. We did 500 miles in a month and a half. We are only a fourth of the way through, and we planned to do the entire thing in one season. I tried to convince the boys to make it a thru-hike, but plane tickets had already been bought and plans were set in stone.

Leaving the AT made me feel... defeated. Like I had failed. I think that is because I had expected that we would do a lot more before taking a break.
I plan on going hiking with my dogs when I get home, but I know it won’t feel the same. There is nothing like hiking the AT with a great big pack on your back and two sweaty guys you just met hiking alongside you.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Fourteen

Bryson and I are going to get back on the trail. Really we’re driving around looking for the AT and failing. But on the bright side, I’m learning a lot. We are currently in Centralia, a town that used to be a bustling, happy place until an underground vein of anthracite (coal that is 95% carbon) ignited. Anthracite is incredibly hard to ignite, but once you get a fire it refuses to go out. The townsfolk and government let it burn, think it would burn itself out and because they was no sure fire way (hahaha puns) to put the fire out. So the fire kept on burning underneath the town. Eventually people started fainting and throwing up from the CO2 being emitted from the coal burning, and in some places the ground caved in. In one case a little boy in his grandmother’s yard almost died when a plume of smoke erupted before him before the ground underneath him caved in. He hung onto tree roots until someone heard his calls and came to rescue him. About that time was when they decided it was time to do something about the fire. Since they couldn’t put it out, they evacuated the town. But they let some people who really wanted to stay stay, so it still wasn’t a very serious evacuation. Bryson and I have knocked on the doors of houses that look lived in, but no one answers. Yet we see the curtains move when we knock... Bryson thinks this is because the 30 years of extra CO2 has probably made them a bit loony and wary of strangers. And the fire is expected to burn for another thousand years.

Anyway, back to the present. The place stinks, and pure white smoke is billowing up from cracks and gashes in the ground. There is a huge gash behind the church, which created a really creepy look. The church has no indication of having a name and tons of white smoke just billowed out from behind it. The scene was definitely fit for a horror movie.

After Centralia we drove to Palmerton to see a mountainside in Lehigh Valley that is completely bald. There is an excessive amount of zinc in the soil, preventing any vegetation from growing. We stared at that for a while before a very annoying ranger or something came and said we were on private property. Bryson and I refused to give our names, so the ranger called his buddy, J.D. We told J.D. we were hikers trying to find the AT and he told us where to go. I batted my eyes a few times at him too, to make sure he would let us go. On the way out we saw J.D. scolding the other guy. Bryson and I hope he was threatening to take away his walkie-talkie.

Time for a random jump to - Natural resources! Such as: coal, oil, and natural gas (others are water, lumber, fruits, etc but I am only going to talk about fossil fuels). Humans used to think that we would have fossil fuels forever, that we would find more when the deposits we’re using run out. Now we are realizing that a) we are going to run out of fossil fuels and b) fossil fuels are killing our Earth. So we need to find another, more natural power source. So far we have solar and wind energy in small amounts. It’s really expensive right now to have solar or wind energy. Electric cars are also a way to help Earth, but won’t power plants have to burn more coal to create electricity for the cars? So instead of gasoline we will be burning coal for cars, which is in no way better.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Fifteen

Today, as we hiked at the base of the Kittatinny Mountain, Bryson told me a lot about what the Alps were like when they were on Pangea. Huge, rivaling the Himalayas is what they were like! Huge, majestic, snow capped mountains. Now they are essentially stubs, one third of what they once were. Erosion really is mean. A single stream can wash away a thousand cubic feet of mountain in a year. And the average mountain usually has several streams running it down. Yet, it still taking thousands and millions of years for a significant difference to be seen. Though over all, that is a really short time. Earth is 4.5 billion years old, so a few million years is really just a few moments.

A hundred million years from now, I think the Alps will either be gone, about the same, or returned to their former glory. You really don’t know. You see, the Earth itself is a living creature. It likes to give itself makeovers, switching around the continents. It has a cold right now, which is why we are still technically in an ice age and the ice caps aren’t jungles. Right now Earth either wants to make the Middle East bigger, get rid of India, or help the Himalayas grow because India is slowly plowing into Europe. Well, slowly to us. As I said before, in the big scheme of things, a century is a milli-milli-second, a million years a moment. Another way the Earth is a living thing is that it has it’s own antibodies, one being: Diseases. You read correctly. You see, diseases take out entire species that Earth feels is a threat. It has tried several times to get rid of us. And failed. Poor Earth... it probably has some master plan to get rid of us. Maybe that’s why there are so many natural disasters.... The Homo Sapien species is about 200,000 years old. A small fraction of the Earth’s age, but it is still very, very mad. We have been pretty bad parasites. Or a project turned terribly, extremely horrible.

Is a random fact to end this entry of facts: A 100 years is a 45,000,00th of the Earth’s total age. Think of how small the fraction would be for the average lifespan of a human...
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Sixteen

If you ever encounter a bear of any size or shapes, there are, of course, things you should and should not do. One is: Never try to take a picture of a bear. They don’t like having their picture taken, and several people have died trying to take a picture of a bear. A few things you can do to avoid meeting a bear are cleaning up thoroughly when you go to bed and when you leave a campsite, and hang up your food in a tree. Another thing is put a bell on your back, or yell or sing to your fellow hikers. Bears really don’t like surprises. And if you do see a bear, and the bear sees you, slowly put your arms above your head, and don’t move after that except to talk to it in a low, calm voice. This will make you appear bigger, so the bear will think that if it attacks it will surely lose, and so it leaves. If it doesn’t leave, slowly walk backwards, back to where you came from. Be very careful not to cross the path of cubs if there any as well. A few things you really don’t want to do is feed the bear, take the bears picture, and don’t run. Bears love a good chase, and they can run a lot faster than humans. Also, some bears can climb trees. Grizzlys can’t, but you have to climb 12 feet up the tree, so climbing a tree really isn’t your best option. One thing you can try in a pinch with grizzlys is lying down in the fetal position and playing dead. Hopefully, the bear will sniff you, growl at you, sniff, growl, and leave. But, with black bears, they will see it has a free lunch and they will chomp down on you. A few last things you can do in a pinch is shoot, which might kill the bear, or make it angrier. Same thing with pepper spray.

If you you ever meet a mother bear and her babies, leave ASAP. Angry human mamas are scary enough, you don’t want to anger a mama who has no trouble or second thoughts about killing a human! I know my own mama would go to great lengths to keep her cubs safe (she has actually gotten a bus driver fired because he was being really rude to me), as would other human mamas. Brown bears might kill you just for looking at her cubs if she thinks they are in danger. But they have to do that, because male brown bears will kill a female’s cubs so that they can mate.

You really don’t know how you will react to something until you come to it. You can imagine and plan, but when the time comes you might react completely different. Everything is subject to change. Events, people, places, everything. Circumstances may change, the world may end, you never know what might happen.

Got to go, Bryson is back from his squat in the woods. I need to complain at him about the non-existent smell.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Seventeen

When you are floating in cold water waiting to be rescued, well, say your prayers and hope you go to heaven. There really is not a lot you can do. Moving around can worsen the situation by using your energy that could’ve been used to stay warm. If there is floating debri, get on that. It is better to be above the water than in it, because the water is always colder than the air. If there is a shore less than a mile away, swim to it. If not, the best you can do is float on your back to reduce heat loss. One thing you can do beforehand to help prevent hypothermia if you fall in the water is: don’t wear cotton. Wet cotton is simply dead weight. Also, wear your life vest 24/7 while in the boat.

When you are encountering a mountain lion, if it shows no interest in you, just keep children where you can see them and dogs on a leash. If the puma is in a tree, slowly and carefully round up the kids and leash the dogs, then leave the area until the puma leaves. If the cougar shows interest in you, slowly get the kids and dogs behind or in something and find a stick or rock to defend yourself with. Make yourself as big and threatening as possible, so the cougar will leave because it will feel like it won’t be able to win. But if it does attack, fight back! Protect yourself and put up a good fight so it will give up and leave you alone.

Mountain lion and bear sightings are actually very rare, especially mountain lion sightings. But, if you do encounter these animals, you know how to deal with them now!

Before I sign out, I also want to say that one starting symptom of hypothermia is the loss of sense of time. But, if it seems that you think hours have passed but your watch hasn’t moved at all, give your watch a good shake. It might be broken. Bryson did this. He thought he had hypothermia, but really his watch was broken. It was quite funny, actually.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Eighteen

Not a lot of people know the difference between climate and weather. Climate is a large areas over all temperature, precipitation, etc over a long period of time. Weather is day-to-day temperatures and precipitation for a small area. When you plan a trip, you pick somewhere based on their climate, and then while you’re there you plan your activities around the weather.

While hiking, we find out what the climate is going to be like in the next stretch to plan if we need to buy anything while we are in town, and at shelters and when we see other hikers we try to see if anyone knows the forecast for the next few days, so we can plan how many miles we need to do that day and in the coming days.

Climates of different regions vary because of their north-south absolute location. This is because of the Earth’s tilt. The tilt of the Earth causes the Sun’s rays to hit different parts of the Earth in different amounts in different parts of the year. The east-west location of regions doesn’t really have an affect on the climate because it doesn’t matter where on the Northern Hemisphere you are, if you are on the Northern hemisphere you will have summer when the rest of the Hemisphere has summer. Here is a better example: Imagine a wall that is all fan, and the opposite wall is rounded out, convex, or like a sphere, and tilted at a 45 degree angle. If you are on the top half, you will feel the air more, no matter if you go left or right, because the air is hitting that entire area directly.

I hope you learned a lot! I am going to watch ‘Breakfast for Champions’ again before Bryson, Bill and I start our hike!
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Nineteen

Snickers, Slim Jims and raisins. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next fortnight. I am actually looking forwards to being one with nature while eating my favorite candy, Snickers, and my favorite dried fruit, raisins. I have only ever had bites of Slim Jims though, so I have no real thought on them right now. I will probably be sick of water, heat and these foods though after we get through the Hundred Mile Wilderness. I say water because I have read up on the Hundred Mile Wilderness, and we are going to get wet. Course, I didn’t tell Bryson and Katz because I want to see the looks on their faces when we come across the first ‘stream’. Actually, we already have, though we didn’t have to cross the stream-that-is-actually-a-river. Bryson had gone to get water and there was a moose across the river. He brought us over there and we just watched her for the longest time. Then I laughed my head off while Bryson made fun of moose(s?) (meese?) during dinner. I look forwards to seeing moose(s?) (meese?) watch us try to cross rivers, happily realizing that there is another species just as uncoordinated as it.
- Nova Rayne Boone

Entry Twenty

I cannot believe we are leaving. Leaving! Katz wanders off, and we decide when we find him to leave. And by ‘we’ I mean Bryson and Katz. We can say we hiked the AT, but we didn’t finish it. And we didn’t do the Hundred Mile Wilderness. Yes, as far as I am aware, the original plan was to do the entire thing. No, it was not my choice. Yes, I wanted to finish. I just might go back and hike it myself. It is just to beautiful, and I really feel one with nature out there. When I go on my own, I am bringing my dogs to keep me company.
I loved the challenge of hiking from shelter to shelter, no matter the distance. I loved meeting people on the trail and in the shelters and towns. I loved the look on Katz and Bryson’s faces as they slipped and fell in the rivers when I was already at the over side.
The entire adventure was truly an experience.
- Nova Rayne Boone

The Transcriptor’s Edition Extras

Someone once asked me to imagine Austin 200 years from now. I immediately answered: Honestly, I firmly believe that in 200 years, this Earth won’t exist any more and we will all be in Heaven or Hell. But, if Earth does exist in 200 years, it would look like no humans had ever lived on Earth. The land would reclaim all the space we took, climbing and growing in, over and around cities. Domestic animals, such as sheep and pig, would either be extinct or they might’ve found their wild brethren and joined them. Endangered animals will have come back and would be thriving. Dogs will have created feral packs that would function just like wolf packs, and some might have joined local wolf packs. Essentially, the world will be like it was before humans, only with modern animals.

When I am outside and all I can see is nature-made things, I feel like I belong. I loved hiking on and around Enchanted Rock, and when it was just us (Mr. and Mrs. Bush, Judi and Sarah, and me) and the rock, I felt like I could stay there forever. But when we saw another person or something man-made, I was jolted back to reality and felt separate from the nature. That’s why I hate just going out in the backyard, but I love going hiking. I want to connect with nature without man-made things around except what I brought with me. I think that humans should really respect nature more, and go and experience it before we kill of nature. Ever seen The Lorax? I am afraid that our world will one day be like that. All metal, no grass or trees. The world should never be like that though. We need to live with the land. We need to give back what we take, and respect mother nature and her rules. We need to start farming again like we used to, with no pesticides except ladybugs and scarecrows. We need to go back to the 1800s, but with modern tech and natural energy. That would be a perfect world.

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