Trail names serve to leave your usual identity behind and perhaps permits a freedom to be someone else for a while. Most hikers don’t know others real names.
I first read Papillon when I was around 14. I found a copy in the Redwood Library and at this stage, it’s about 30 years overdue…
A true (for the most part) story of a French criminal sent to jail in French Guiana. He spent the next 14 years trying to escape, as he thought he was wrongly accused and convicted.
He escaped from a series of prisons many times over those year, spending terrible years in solitary in horrific conditions.
Eventually, he is given asylum in Venezuela where he lives out his life.
It was the first book that hooked me into stories of human suffering and endurance. Others followed like The Long Walk: the true story of a Polish soldier in WWII who gets sent to Siberia. He and a couple others escape from the gulag, walk across Siberia, cross the Gobi, cross the damn Himalayas into India. A truly amazing feat.
The Narrative of Robert Adams is a story about an American sailor that shipwrecked in Africa and spent 3 years as a slave.
I am not saying that my little adventure is in the same league as these stories by ANY stretch. They serve to enlighten about real trials and the ability of people to adapt, persist and survive through amazing hardship. Plus, later research has thrown doubt on the authenticity of some of these stories. Lame, but the idea persists.
The Long Walk