A Nomad and a Novice

Nov. 23, 2021

By Rue McKenrick

I know realizing our 40’s can be like swallowing sawdust. I didn’t really care one way or the other. Not because I am “too cool for school” but rather because the spiritual path I have chosen requires an attempt at being here, now when possible. Oowww (sardonic). Anyway, I didn’t make any plans but The APT Community had a Zoom Birthday Party for me. I took a minute to soak in the gratitude of this tender gift. I have done every Holiday and Birthday alone over the last 2 years. Not because of the pandemic but something much more isolating. Solo Backpacking.

I don’t get star struck. I have met maybe three Celebrities. I even hung out with one in his home a couple times. I never felt like they were any different from anyone else. To me that is another Person, nothing more nothing less. Why? I do not know. I have tried to get star struck and it doesn’t work. I am not above it. I guess it’s because my mind separates their accomplishments from their beautiful Inner Being.  I lied by omission or concealed my accomplishments for years so no one would act weird around me on trail. I hated the attention and would rather avert my hiking resume every chance I got. I didn’t want another Human Being or Celebrity feeling like we were not equal ground, one way or the other. None better or worse. Higher or lower. 

 I don’t want to be seperate from You or You, Me.

 I do recall one time 20 years ago when I attended an appearance by a Man I felt was a personal Hero of mine. He had a long white beard and his arms raised in the air as he shared his adventures and poems. I thought he was a Ghost that would utter one last word and spin into a rising vapor, leaving the audience wondering how he had disappeared. He was what I would call a Man with a Crazy Heart and I loved him for it. I had read his book Ten Million Steps and felt like he had spoken into my heart more than any other Backpacker. It was Nimblewill Nomad.

The phone rang and I did not know the incoming number. Yes, I answer calls even if I don’t know who is calling. If it’s a Person telemarketing I thank them, which I admit is a bit disingenuous, and I hang up. I answered, “Rue McKenrick.” On the other end was the  southern drawl of a poet and the voice of a past generation. “Rue, this Nimblewill Nomad.” A moment or two must have passed when I comprehended what was happening. 

I said his name back to him, Nimblewill Nomad?” 

We spoke for a spell and he said, “Oh, Greybeard just walked in.” Greybeard was the oldest known person to have thru-hiked The Appalachian Trail. Now, for a second I seriously thought I was tripping. The room got real small and then real big all of a sudden. Okay now this was just getting downright strange. 

Nimblewill Nomad and I have stayed in touch and become Friends. Honestly, I felt like he was a good Friend even before we were Friends. That’s the effect a good writer and poet can have on you. Like you have known them for years through their work. Nimblewill told me they were announcing he was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for yet a third time this year. This would make him the oldest Person to ever have thru-hiked the Trail. I felt very honored to be privy to this exciting pending announcement. 

Our first conversation came to an end. We continue to message and talk from time to time. If I have a question about life I will ask Nomad. If I have a question about backpacking I will ask Nomad. Because for both of us Backpacking and Life are the same thing. Before we ended the call I said to Mr. Nimblewill Sir, what do I call you? He said, “Well my Friends call me Sunny.” 

Nimblewill Nomad finished this Autumn and is now The oldest Person to have thru-hiked The Appalachian Trail. You amaze us. On behalf of The whole APT Community, we thank you Nimblewill Nomad for showing us what is possible!

Nimblewill Nomad completing the Appalachian for the 3rd time at the age of 83

2 thoughts on “A Nomad and a Novice

  1. “I don’t want to be seperate from You or You, Me” ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Thanks for sharing this Rue 🦗

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