Adventure Writing, Reading & Hiking the Appalachian Trail
By Hazel Edwards
Students admire heroes who have mastered physical challenges.
Adventure writing is one way of enticing reluctant readers. It's 'real' stuff and can inspire them to have personal endurance goals, beyond school and to write about their own physical challenges.
Trevelyan Edwards (Walkabout) was one of only two Australians who completed the 3219km Appalachian Trail walk in 2012.
Trevelyan inspired the classic picture book 'There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake', Trevelyan has also written 'Cycling Solo: Ireland to Istanbul'.
So, in what way is hiking the Appalachian Trail, located in east coast USA, of interest to Australian students and how does it link to the curriculum?
It relates to:
- Physical education & health
- Problem-solving & goal setting
The 3219km Appalachian Trail takes 6 months but there is the option of doing just a section.
Walkabout's Handy Hints for Hiking
- Be Good to Your Feet
Breaking in your walking shoes before the trip is essential; the last thing you need is blisters early on
so keep your feet dry and as soon as you feel rubbing, medically tape them - band aids quickly rub off. Your feet will get sore from all the rocks and roots you walk on, so give them a rub every now and then.
- Choose a Trail Name
When completing a long hike like the Appalachian Trail; trail names are a great ice breaker and more identifying (and easier to remember) when you're talking about other hikers.
- Experience Trail Magic
Trail Magic is when you come across people that want to help hikers in any way they can; people set up a BBQ at a road-trail intersection and feed the hikers as they come past.
- Read Blazes
For navigation, a blaze is painted on a tree, post or rock. The trail is extremely well trodden and marked by mainly white blazes.
Double white blazing means there's something of interest coming up, usually an intersection, switchback or change of direction. Blazing is also a term to distinguish what type of hike you are walking.
- Nothing is Essential
Minimalism is the way to go. Shed unnecessary gear to lighten your pack. There are 'hiker boxes' along the trail at hostels littered with expensive clothing and other hiking paraphernalia that hikers realise they don't need and end up ditching.
- Embrace your Foreignness
When overseas, embrace your inner Ocker; words such as Hey, Hello or Hi shall never pass your lips. Instead they are universally replaced by G'day. Vegemite is your condiment of choice.
- Trail Food Syndrome
The RDI (regular daily intake) for an adult is 2000 calories. When hiking, the more kilos you carry, the slower you go, the greater your exertion and the more food you need. This usually involves eating a lot of processed food as it is generally light and keeps well rather than water inundated fresh food. As a bonus you will lose weight as a side effect of the trail and this is whilst eating anything you want.
- The American Way
Despite acknowledging that metric is simpler, they still use the imperial system; no-one can work out what the temperature converts to in centigrade which can catch you out if you don't realise that a 20°F night means it's going to be below freezing.
- The Hiker Grapevine
News travels quickly along the trail via technology. Combined with trail names and hiker logs, this means it isn't uncommon for people to have heard about you before you've even met them. 'Ahh so you're that Aussie 'Walkabout' hmm.'
National Reading Ambassador
Australian Society of Authors: Board of Directors.