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AT Hikers

Profile: Castro
By Ken Anderson
Sep 29, 2004 - 1:11:00 PM

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His beard, hat, and the green shirt that he often wore on the trail, earned him the trail name of Castro, but his real name is Jonathan Dundois. He completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail yesterday, on September 28th, after having been on the trail for a few days short of seven months.
Castro, also known as Jonathan Dundois

Castro, who is from Bethesda, Maryland, came into the Magic City Morning Star & Hard Drive Cafe to check his email on September 29, 2004.

He left Springer Mountain in Georgia on February 29th, carrying 50 pounds in his pack, according to the scales at Amicalola. This included a two-person tent, which he slept in most nights, although his trip included some stays in shelters and towns.

Castro said that, for him, completing the Appalachian Trail wasn't all about following the white blazes. Rather, it was the total package, which included learning about the towns he went through and building relationships with other people along the way. In fact, he said that Mount Katahdin was almost anticlimactic, in that he felt that he had accomplished his goals when he reached the Abol Bridge campground. While the view was terrific and it was nice to see the sign at the top of the mountain, summiting Mount Katahdin was more of an obligatory thing that felt that he had to do.

Asked to name the favorite part of the trip, he had to think, as there were so many.

He settled on the Jerry Cabin shelter, near Hot Springs and Spring Mountain. While he was there, they had gotten two inches of snow in two days, so they stayed in the shelter, putting tarps and plastic over the entrance, and building a fire to keep warm. Castro said he spent two days there, taking other hikers in out of the cold, and having a good time.

Also, he cited the Grayson Highlands, in Virginia, and all of Maine, especially with the autumn color changes. He carried a flyrod through the 100-Mile Wilderness from Monson to Katahdin, but didn't have any luck fishing. He had been hoping for something too, because he didn't bring enough food for the Wilderness.

He also said that the White House Landing was nice; good food, maybe a little bit pricey but understandable, given its location on Pemadumcook Lake

Castro couldn't think of even one part of his AT thru-hike that was bad, although parts of it were hard.

This was his first thru-hike. Prior to taking on the AT, he had done some backpacking and hiking as a boy scout, but not since. While he will always remember the months he spent on the Appalachian Trail, he doesn't know if he'll do it again.

"Maybe, one of these days," he offered. "When I forget about how much it hurts."

Asked what the town of Millinocket might do to be friendlier, or to make things easier for thru-hikers, he jokingly suggest, "Move closer to Baxter State Park." He said that everyone has been very friendly, from the people at the AT Lodge, where he was staying, to the AT Cafe, and all of the businesses he has visited today.

"Everybody has been great," he said.

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