Pacific Crest Trail, pct, hiking, hiker, thru-hike, Appalachian Trail, travel guide, travel, podcast, podcast travel,

The second episode of Before A to B features the host's mother talking about the challenges of knowing her son sleeps in a tent surrounded by potential dangers.


(“Gravy” by Podington Bear serves as the intro. License.)

Josh: Hi, folks. This is your host, Josh Ellerbrock, and welcome to another episode of “Before A to B”, a set of weekly minicasts setting up my upcoming travel podcast series called “Between A to B,” to be released during my Pacific Crest Trail hike. First official episode of “Between A to B” comes out April 16. (Note: The release date of “Between A to B” has been moved up one day to April 17.) Let's get started.

Every man has a mother. And if she's anything like mine, she's pretty cool. In my family, she acts as the glue between all of us. And she's raised four children to be a group of mostly adjusted adults – a rarity in this day and age.

Her name is Martha, by the way. Now due to my tendency to seek adventure, she's accepted the added responsibility of having to explain my travels to her fellow residents of small-town America. Many who don't see much purpose in venturing outside county lines. As for my relation with her, I like to think it's a good one. We may not talk every day but when we do, the conversations go long.

She's also the one person I could better explain the trail experience to. Now I could talk for hours about the “why” behind thru-hiking, ad by the time I'm done with this project, I will have. But before I do, I wanted to get a better understanding of the window that others view this adventure through. And so, I talked to my mother. Turns out, she's trying to understand this thing too, in her own small way.

Mother: Dad and I plan on doing that with his sister, Laura, and her husband in 2018. We have a date set. We want to take an easy part of the Appalachian Trail and just go one week.

Josh: Yeah

Mother: And we really want to do it. And we want to kind of prepare for it. You know, make sure we walk and get physically, you know, more set for it so we can walk 10 hours a day.

Josh: Yeah. What were you thinking? Shenandoahs, basically?

Mother: Yeah, we were gonna, wherever you had suggested since you've been there. And take on the trail that way, you know, the parts that you would suggest that would have a lot of beauty to it and not too hard of a trail. It'll be interesting. I don't know what we'll do, how far we'd go, that's not it. Basically, have a different experience, something we've never did before.

(“He Went Away” by Podington Bear. License.)

I get you when you want to get away from the basics of life, sometimes. The stupid stuff that hits you and smacks you everyday. Sometimes, I want to throw them out too. It's like, come on. You know.

I'm not saying I don't have any questions about it. I mean, if you want me to be truthful,, I'm totally supportive.

Josh: What are some of your doubts? Because I know you have some.

Mother: Your safety. Your health, I guess. Um...I'm apprehensive about that. Um. Not enough that I don't want you to do it. If you would say 'Okay, mom. Tell me right now. Should I do it? Or should I not do it?' I would say 'Do it.' You know, it's not so much that I don't think, when I become apprehensive about it, it's not because of you doing it, because anything you tackled and really wanted to do, you've accomplished. It's more, it's not about me. It's, you know, what my children do, it's not about me. It's what you need to do, and that's why I support it. You know, and I think...I think it's awesome that somebody has the drive to do that. Because I'm not that kind of person that has that drive.

You know, it kind of makes me jealous sometimes, you know, that I don't have that.

I would have fears of what's out there somewhat. I think a little bit. I would have to feel comfortable when I went to bed. You know, if I had any worries about where I was at or my surroundings. That would make a difference. But if I was with people, if I was sleeping alone I'd have more. I don't like being alone. So, that's not a good thing, but if I was with group of people with other people around me, that would make a difference.

Josh: What would stop you from sleeping well?

Mother: Ummmm....Strange noises, I guess. Animals. Um...animals and discomfort might stop me from sleeping well. How much pain I have from the day. Aches and pains, you know, especially if I wasn't in shape.

There's a lot of thing that it's better I don't know, but I know how that is. I didn't tell my mom everything. (laughter) Some of the things I told her after I was 40 that I'd done, she'd say 'Oh, my goodness!' (laughter) but you know, you know how that is.

People say to me, 'How can you stand that? You don't know where he's at. That would drive me crazy' and I'm like 'No...' And I think because you did the Appalachian Trail, having done that already, and I had that book. And I felt like I was walking with you, in a way.

Josh: Quick aside: The book she is talking about here is “The A.T. Guide” by David “AWOL” Miller. Most AT thru-hikers use it.

Mother: ...That part didn't bother me after I had bought the same book that you had. And when I would talk to you, I would guess through my mind that 'I bet that he's at that shelter'. And 90 percent of the time you were at where I thought you would be. So that part didn't bother me as it did in the past. But I do not like that you're gone for six months. You know, any mother's dream is that her child is there. But, you know, that's not going to stop me from letting you do what you want to do.

(“Gravy” by Podington Bear. License.)

Josh: Alright. Thanks everybody for listening and stay tuned next week for the next addition of “Before A to B”