I imagine most anyone reading this would now be expecting a story wherein we encountered a relatively small, stealthy, raggedy animal with patchy fur. And for the most part, you wouldn't be wrong. Cody Coyote is a 24 yr old Tennessee native and as of march 16th, a SOBO AT thru hiker. Coyote left Mt. Katadhin in early August of 2012 and hiked southbound.... In the offseason. Although the thru hike took him an extra 8-10 weeks, we along with everyone else on the trail are astonished by his ability to endure what must have seemed like perpetual winter. Especially since his pack (more of an oversized book bag, not designed for hiking), his 30 degree sleeping bag, and his first set of clothes are the only items he started with. Everything else that can be found in Coyote's pack has either been fashioned or found since his departure. Coyote has a small hand line he uses for fishing, a pass time which has also provided him with sustainence (weather permitting). He also carries more rolling tobacco than he does toiletries, and not once since he left has he carried a tent or any form of proper shelter. Coyote relies on the designated shelters that the AMC (Appalachian mountain club) has provided as well as naturally occurring overhead protection such as thick rhododendrons, overhanging boulders, fallen logs and steep cresting hills. This fella is nuts. One night Coyote rolled into camp a little late after completing almost 20 of the most difficult miles Georgia has to offer. To his surprise, the shelter was full. Over full in fact. He told one of the fellas that we were with that he would sleep by the fire (like he has been doing for warmth for the past 8 months). And that if it rained, he would wrap himself up in the 5x5 piece of blue tarp that he carries. And that if it rained hard he would try to squeeze in the shelter. And if that isn't an option, he'll take his tarp UNDER the shelter (a crawl space of about 12 inches). Apparently this is normal order of operations for a shelter that is full in the rain. (NOTE: the AT thru hiking community is extremely generous and helpful, no one would have let him go under the shelter, but that WAS his response to the line of questioning). All Coyote's food comes from hiker boxes, canned items left behind at shelters, trail magic, work-for-stay hostels, and the rare stop into a convenience store. All while hiking 20 mile days and burning 7500 calories a day. He can't weigh more than 115 lbs.
Coyote is a man of few words (if you are lucky enough to coax any from him at all). When asked what he does when it rains, he replies simply "I get wet". The oddly Forrest Gump-like answer leaves you wondering if there is more to the story. There is not. Coyote loves the simplicity of being outside and enjoying a footpath highway which traverses America's backcountry. That's it. He deals with whatever the trail throws at him and accepts the realities of living on virtually nothing. We are all astonished as well as, in some way, jealous. He has all he needs. Can you imagine having ALL you need in a small ruck sack? His answer is that he has the AT.
So you're probably wondering how we have been seeing Coyote if he is supposedly a SOBO hiker that finished on march 16th. Well... Coyote found his completion of the AT a bit anticlimactic. He found that upon reaching the summit of Springer Mountain, he was no more fulfilled than he had been the day before, the week before, or 6 months before that. He just wants to be out there. The accomplishment of finishing isn't the point. The journey was over and his feeling was more of longing to continue than it was of relief to be done. So he turned around and joined the ranks of the 2013 NOBO thru hikers for what is known as a "yoyo hike" (need I explain?). What a beauty.
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