Coltin Calloway, 28, hopes the months he spent lugging video gear up the Appalachian Trail with his fiancée and camera dog “Chaser” will pay dividends with a film that sees “The AT” the way “through hikers” see it.
Since the trail was completed from Georgia to Maine in 1937, a hiker’s dictionary has evolved.
A “through hiker” is someone making the entire walk of about 2,180 miles through 14 states.
Depending on which end one starts, the hiker is either a “north bounder” or a “south bounder.”
Hikers who gravitate to each other, often stopping for the night at the same place, are said to be in a hiker’s “bubble”.
Because there are so many hikers with the same first names, at some point hikers began giving themselves trail names.
Calloway is “Spiral” on his blog, http://www.theclimbtokatahdin.blogspot.com.
Fiancee Lindsay Fasic is “Reverie.” “Chaser” became, natch, “CamDog.” ‘Chaser,’ a Catahoula, wore saddle bags and a POV camera.
Calloway wants to attract first-time hikers to the Appalachian Trail by introducing them, through a theatrical film, to such things as “trail magic”.
“Trail magic” occurs in gaps along the trail, breaks in the mountains easily reached by car, where people leave ice chests full of beverages and food. Church people along the way set up surprise barbecues for the hikers who relish the break from whatever food they carry in their packs.
Calloway and Fasic, who live in Baker, were on the Appalachian Trail from April 1 to Oct. 13 except for a month off in New York. The couple took a break after suffering 107-degree heat in northern Virginia during the heat wave that gripped the eastern United States in July.
While Calloway works on his film, he’s back at The Boot Store on Florida Boulevard where his mother, Becky, is the manager. Fasic is making the transition from the arduous but simple life of the Appalachian Trail back, she hopes, to the routine of her job at Whole Foods.
The hikers saved $13,000 to finance the trip, Calloway said.
“The hardest thing was having the energy to do 12 to 18 miles a day and doing it day after day,” Fasic said. “You kept the mentality of having to get to a certain point by a certain day. All you did was hike.”
Fasic lost about 30 pounds between Georgia and Maine.
And there were the views.
“I miss it all,” she said. “In particular, I miss unzipping the tent in the morning and having this fabulous view.”
“There were times,” Fasic said, “when I was scared, a river crossing or being on the side of a cliff, but I never felt I was in real danger.”
Often, Calloway was 10 minutes ahead of Fasic on the trail.
“I came across a black bear,” she said. “He was running towards me, but I wasn’t scared for some reason. As soon as he saw me, he turned and ran the other way.”
Most nights, Calloway and Fasic slept in their tent.
“Mice were a problem pretty much all the way,” she said. “When we slept in our tent, mice weren’t that big a problem. In shelters, there was always a mouse problem.”
More than once, the hikers awoke to mice in their hair.
Calloway picked up a pen to quickly sketch the “mice line” that hikers learn to make early in their journeys. Hikers hang a tin can from the ceiling of the shelter or tent. A line goes from the bottom of the can to a stick to which hikers’ food is hung.
Some mice learn to hang from the can to drop onto the food sacks where they chew holes. Calloway and Fasic’s tent has mouse holes.
On infrequent car trips away from the trail, Calloway was impressed by how fast trees seemed to zip by the car unlike the panorama at 2½-miles-an-hour on the trail.
The 61/2 months away from home, hiking woods and mountains and getting to know people in small towns along the way made what Fasic thinks will be a lasting impression.
“We don’t want to live in a big city,” she said. “Or rely on electricity and water so much. (We’d rather) use solar panels and a water source of our own and have a garden.”
The film he’ll make, Calloway said, won’t be historical documentary or travelogue.
“There’s no video of the ‘AT’ the way I want to do it,” he said. “I want it be about the people we met, the camaraderie, the towns we walked through.”
Before they began their months of walking, Calloway and Fasic kept three dehydrators going for months at his dad’s house to fill 42, 16-by-11-inch boxes with packaged meals.
Then, Calloway meticulously looked up the mailing addresses for drop points along the line of march.
Calloway’s mother set an alarm on her phone to remind her of shipment days.
“People would be eating their Ramen noodles and tuna every night,” Calloway said.
“We were probably eating Hamburger Helper mixed with ground meat and cooked vegetables that we’d dehydrated.”
Backpackers on the trail burn up to 6,000 calories a day. As many as 3 million hikers walk a portion of the trail each year. Only one in four who attempt to walk the length of the trail make it.
“I sent the ring in the last box,” Becky Calloway said.
Coltin proposed to Lindsay at journey’s end on Maine’s Mount Katahdin.
“It was 16 degrees,” Calloway said. “Our water froze, and icicles formed in my beard.”
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