Talk show legend Brian Wilson and I had a rowdy chat today on his Libertas Media Project podcast on the Midsummer Shakespeare Brawl, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and whether the American political system is beyond hope.
Since Brian is aware that I’ve been doing a little hiking, he asked about a recent story about hikers in Maine messing up the Appalachian Trail. I mentioned the new movie – “A Walk in the Woods” with Robert Redford – and then teed off on the piety of Thru Hikers (people who announce their intent to hike the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail). Hiking is a joy but spending 6 months tromping a fairly boring mountain range has no appeal for me. There are some beautiful passages along the A.T. but the trail as a whole is a bit anemic compared to the Alps or western U.S. parks.
The first “thru hiker” I met was a colicky Canadian who talked in awestruck terms about her wisdom in lightening her backpack from 60 pounds to 40 pounds along the way. When I asked what she had learned about herself on the trail, she replied, “Nothing, really – I was busy hiking.” She is typical of the vacuousness of many long distance hikers I have encountered. Long-distance hiking (and the usual accompaniment, perpetual fatigue) becomes a mental anesthesia to deaden awareness of all the other problems in their lives.
Many Thru Hikers carry themselves with a saintly air, as if their journey is the moral equivalent of curing some dreaded disease. In reality, taking a long walk in the woods does as much for the human race as digging a ditch. Not all of them effuse piety -there are plenty of exceptions – young folks, retirees, and others who simply want to spend a long stretch of time outdoors. But these folks don’t preen – they simply enjoy each day along the way.
My comments on Thoreau may get me burnt in effigy by the Strike-the-Root crowd.
Brian and I also talked about the presidential race. I appreciated him recycling some of the Twitter lines I fired off a few days ago.
You can listen to the Appalachian Trail part of the interview by clicking below.
The following segment covers the Midsummer Shakespeare Brawl –
And here is the final part of the interview where we heap accolades on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Rand Paul prior to a Dante-esque conclusion
If you want to hear Brian’s zippety Libertas Media Podcasts on a regular basis, here is the page with the subscription information.