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What’s in your backpack? Ten…Eleven Essential and No Machete

May 2021: Harpers Ferry Hike

It’s been a year since Arizona Eagle, our son, was in Ohio.  He flew back for a two-week break between semesters using a soon-to-expire Southwest Airline ticket (Southwest had allowed a one-year extension for the ticket due to COVID).  The winter season had brought another round of COVID infections that increased the number of hospitalizations and deaths.  When May finally came with its sunshine and flowers, it felt different to me. The world felt hopeful and we (universal we) would get through this.  Spring was a good reason to celebrate and we decided on a family vacation.  I suggested Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: the mecca for the Appalachian Trail, for history (Ohioan, Abolitionist John Brown’s raid of the Federal Armory), and for baked goods (Bolivar Bakery).  

Back in May 2021, we didn’t have an actual start date for our flip-flop.  Our flip-flop was a vague adventure to happen somewhere in the future.  I wanted to see the Appalachian Trail Conservatory Headquarters; watch AT thru hikers posing for their celebratory halfway photo; talk to volunteers at the conservatory, and place my hiking boots on the trail for this future dream.

The first day in Harpers Ferry, we planned a day hike in Virginia.  The three of us slung on our daypacks filled with “The 10 Essentials for Hiking” (The American Hiking Society and The Mountaineers recommend ten pieces of equipment for hikers.  These items have been identified as “lifesavers” in an emergency).  The three of us have used the “Essentials” as a foundation for building out our gear for either a day hike or an extended backpacking adventure.  That day we ate my go-to lunch menu: Curried Chicken Salad served on Triscuits, Girl Scout Cookies, and apples.    

Read the complete article by Beth Malchus Stafa here.


October 4, 2023

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Beth Malchus Stafa

Hi from Grandma Gatewood’s hiking grounds, the Hopewell Culture’s Serpent Mound, and Lake Erie. We are Beth and Tom, trail names Dessert Queen (one who looks at the dessert menu first before the entrée) and Mr. Rook (one who plays chess), lifelong hikers who are setting off on our next adventure, a flip flop thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. Our journey begins in April 2023 as we willfully step onto the Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway to cross the Potomac River with our backpacks filled with gear needed for this six month journey. We are embracing the spirit of the month and the characteristics of the Jungian archetype The Fool by demonstrating confidence, persistence, and courage. We believe that it is not too late to aim high, to practice joy and awe, to be curious and try new things and to face the unknown together.

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