FireBall, also known as William G. Luttge, has stopped by the Magic City Morning
Star & Hard Drive Cafe quite a few times over the past week.
He completed his northbound thru-hike from Georgia to Maine on September 20,
2004; and has been around updating his journal and taking care of other things
for the past few days. His wife, Michaelyn, known on the trail as Hot Chocolate,
began coming in a week or so before, as she was waiting for him to arrive at the
various points along the way.
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,180-mile trail that follows the ridges and
valleys of the Appalachian Mountain ranges from Springer Mountain in Georgia to
Mount Katahdin in Maine.
Fireball began his trek on March 2, 2004, after retiring from his
position as Executive Director of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University
of Florida in Gainsville, an interesting bit that I discovered on my own, but
one that neither he or his wife divulged in our conversations over the past
several days; all of which serves to illustrate the principle that everyone is
equal on the trail. On the AT, you see, he is not Dr. William G. Luttge, but
Fireball, just another northbounder who will be judged not by past
accomplishments but through what he says or does on the trail, and in his
relationships with other hikers.
FireBall is from Cross Creek, Florida.
In his trail journal, FireBall says that an early mistake that he had made
was to carry far too much weight. Beginning with a pack that weighed in at 62
pounds, he soon learned that he didn't really need much of what he had taken
with him. So he shed things along the way, as do many hikers.
During his journey, his wife walked with him part of the way and, even more
importantly, she followed his progress with a recreation trailer, providing
support and restocking as needed, and could take him off the trail for a shower,
and perhaps some real food, before dropping him back on the AT to continue where
he had left off.
Michaelyn was also able to help him keep up with his journal wherever
Internet connections were available, and that's where we were able to help out.
With their own notebook computer, they needed only a wireless adapter to connect
to our wireless signal, which also allowed him to download and arrange the many
photos they had taken along the way.
Shortly after completing his hike, we asked FireBall if there was anything
that the town or people of Millinocket might be able to do to make his stay more
pleasant. His reply was, "After receiving a free beer at the bar just down from
the laundromat, I can't think of anything better."
This has been his first thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, but he's not
through with hiking. Next year he plans to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a
2,650-mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and
FireBall, Michaelyn - It has been a pleasure having you here with us. My wife
and I wish you the best on future journeys. If you're ever again in Millinocket,
stop by and visit with us.
|Fireball, known off the trail as Bill Luttge|