Recently Retired Faculty Member John Stifler Shares His Appreciations of Western Mass While Hiking the Appalachian Trail

John Stifler taught much-lauded writing courses in the Economics Department for many years.  He shared his reflections on Western Mass as he hiked the Appalachian Trail in the following Daily Hampshire Gazette articles:

Columnist John Stifler: Appreciating western Mass while hiking the AT (By John Stifler, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 8/01/17)

From the time I was born, my mother put photographs of me into a scrapbook. One of my favorites shows me at age 4, standing on top of a bale of hay in a field on the slopes of Mount Greylock.  She or my father took the photo after we had driven from our little house in Williamstown up to the summit of the highest peak in Massachusetts, seen the great war memorial tower topped with its huge globe, and driven part way down again before stopping for photos.  My second visit to Greylock was a couple of weeks ago. This time I walked up several miles of the Appalachian Trail, carrying a 30-pound pack and a pair of non-matching hiking poles — one wood, one metal — wearing a faded, used-to-be-maroon-but-now-looks-pink baseball cap, accompanied by a couple of fellow hikers known by their trail names: Pura Vida and OMG. We took pictures, read signs and plaques describing the tower and its history, ate snacks in the appropriately rustic Bascom Lodge at the summit, and then resumed the 2,189-mile hike.  READ MORE.....

Columnist John Stifler: Solitude and camaraderie on the Appalachian Trail (By John Stifler, Daily Hampshire Gazette, 6/06/17)

When I told people I was going to hike the Appalachian Trail this summer, the question they most often asked was, “Are you going alone?” – usually with strong emphasis on that last word.  Alone? Well, yes and no.  When you go to college, or when you join the Army, do people ask whether you are doing so alone? Like those other institutions, the Appalachian Trail through-hike, 2,179 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine (or the reverse, or the flip-flop, in which you start in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, hike south to Springer, then get back to Harper’s Ferry and hike north to Katahdin), attracts a variety of people who begin the trek as strangers but become part of a remarkable social unit.  Fifty-five days into the hike, I am pausing in the library in the small southwestern Virginia town of Glasgow to write this.   READ MORE.....