Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

Reporting from the Appalachian Trail, WRAL-TVs Scott Mason Celebrates 60 with a Long-Awaited Hike


WRAL-TVs Tar Heel Traveler Scott Mason recently celebrated being 60 by hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail with a close friend. The trip fulfilled a promise made long ago. He penned a piece about their adventure:

Boots on The Ground By Scott Mason

WRAL-TV's Scott Mason shared this photo from his recent Appalachian Trail adventure. He and a close friend make a long-awaited trek to make Mason's turning 60.

Im a city boy. Never camped before, not really. But always love playing the cowboy.

I sprang for a pair of boots once on a trip to Dallas, fake snakeskin, and went strutting around Harris-Teeter back home in Raleigh. I felt tall and rugged though I dont think anybody noticed.

Awhile later, I took another trip, this time to Cleveland, and met an old college buddy over beers in a bar. He brought up the Appalachian Trail. Well start in Georgia, hike a week or two, then pick up where we left off the next year, and the next. Shoot, well hit Maine by the time we lose our hair.

I hoisted my PBR, whacked the can against his, and hollered, Im in!

But I wasnt in when the trail came calling that fall. Too much to do, I told him. Next year. But the next year, he solo trekked again and again and again. I didnt wear my fake snakeskins to the Teeter anymore.

A decade passed, and all the while my buddy kept section hiking his way up the mighty AT. I was sure hed given up on me the way my Orthopedic had bailed on my hips. Double replacement very soon, the doc said with a face grimmer than Clint Eastwoods in a spaghetti western.

I joined a gym. My wife bought a Peloton. I lifted and biked, and the ol hips improved, and when my buddy rang me out of the blue Yeehaw! I was suddenly back in the saddle. Yes, I told him. Yes, yes, Im in! I was also in AARP. I was about to turn 60, and this time there was no turning back.

We met on a Sunday night at a hotel in Hagerstown, Maryland, and I splayed my backpack belongings all over the bed. Too many clothes, too many Cliff bars. I left a pound or two in the car, repacked the pack, and we toasted our journey-to-be. Craft beer instead of PBR, but okay.

We caught a ride the next morning to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, our starting point, and I felt like a hiker. I looked like a hiker. I was ready to be a hiker. We hiked and my loaded pack grew heavier with every step. Maybe I was not so ready.

The scenery, at least, proved a pleasant distraction. The Potomac River shimmered in the morning sun. A deer eyeballed me from 20 yards away. Everything was lush and green. My buddy showed me how to adjust my shoulder straps, and the weight shifted. Much better, and okay, this was good. This was great. I was loving it but love proved a short honeymoon.

The woods closed in, and the rocks popped up. So many rocks. By day two, I would have given a hundred Cliff bars for one pair of ankle braces.

Three nights, four days, 40 miles through Maryland, and at one point, the trail was not a trail at all but an endless series of boulders. My legs wobbled over them, my poles scraped across them, and worse, we bounded the daggum boulders in a driving rain.

Oh, yes, it rained, but that was day three, and by then I was a battle-scarred veteran. Bring it on, I growled. Aint gonna stop, and I didnt. And rarely did the rain.

WRAL-TV's Scott Mason shared this photo from his recent Appalachian Trail adventure. He and a close friend make a long-awaited trek to make Mason's turning 60.

I planted one foot in front of the other during those grueling days. I sang the National Anthem to myself 10 times. I wrote a short story in my head though I cant remember it now. I told my friend jokes I hadnt thought of in years.

We laughed. We hiked. We camped. Each night, I set up my tent in an hour and slept about as long. I thought an air mattress was supposed to be comfortable. I thought the middle of nowhere was supposed to be quiet.

Breakfast was always a slim packet of oatmeal, but I wasnt hungry anyway. I guess the exertion robbed my appetite though even that early, I nearly scarfed a Mountain House lasagna just to rid the pack of a few more ounces.

Each day was like the other. But not like it, too. Surprises greeted us along the way, such as the friendly fellow hikers we met. One gave us his spare water filter when ours broke. We asked for his address so we could mail him a check later, but he waved us away. Nah. Glad to help.

We rested at beautiful overlooks and passed Civil War battlefields. We came upon a stretch near Boonsboro dedicated to George Washington, and around the bend rose the Washington Monument, the original one, a 40-foot stone tower built in 1827.

The whole trip was a surprise, the fact I made it, that my body made it. My ankles and hips, too. I practically jogged the last half mile, the pack never so light as it was then.

We arrived just before dusk at Pen Mar County Park, about a quarter mile from the Pennsylvania line. My buddy hiked that last little bit and stepped across, but not me. P.A. could wait, I thought. Maybe next fall, maybe the next state on the list, and forget tiptoeing over. Id tackle it from one end to the other. All in. Yeehaw!

I settled myself on a bench, slipped off my pack, and kept an eye out for our ride. The driver was running late, but that was okay. It was all okay. Everything was outstanding. I gulped the crisp air and gazed at the grey sky. The rain had quit. But I had just begun.

Alone with my thoughts, my cowboy boots sprang to mind, the snakeskins Id tucked deep in my closet. I realized my hiking boots would not be keeping them company. At that moment, I knew the muddy clodhoppers now on my feet would remain close at hand and, sure, maybe Id even wear them to Harris-Teeter just so theyd stay broken in.

But without a doubt, I also
See more stories from cbc

More from WRAL-TV


Beats n Bars festival moves to American Tobacco in Durham

The Beats n Bars Festival is relocating to the American Tobacco Campus in September. The festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 16, with a free hip hop show at Bouri...


Deadline August 25th for 2022 WRAL Azalea Celebration

The 36th Annual WRAL Azalea Celebration is accepting applications from non-profits for the 2022 plant giveaway. Sponsored by WRAL-TV, MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM, FOX 50...


American Underground Expands Program for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Last week American Underground kicked off the next iteration of their Idea to Entrepreneur program, helping support and mentor up-and-coming creators. AU ran t...


Duke Performances at American Tobacco Set for Wednesdays in September

Duke Performances at American Tobacco will return this fall. Four concerts are planned for Wednesdays in September! Wednesday, September 7 Orquesta K'Ch...


Doggos, Margaritaville & Bull Sharks at Bulls Next Homestand

The Bulls battle the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp this week for first place as part of an action-packed six-game homestand at the DBAP, starting Tuesday, August 9 ...


HighSchoolOT Gearing Up for Football Season

HighSchoolOT hosted the HSOT Coaches Kickoff, the first in-person since the pandemic, on Thursday, July 21, 2022, at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. High schoo...


Fort Bragg Soldiers Intern at WRAL-TV

Three Ft Bragg soldiers - (l to r) SGT Aaron Wright, SPC Colleen Kleponis & SPC Christopher Harris interned at WRAL-TV for two weeks at the end of July 2022. ...


Bulls Host Expanding Explorer Event to Share Value of Program

Corp's Jim Goodmon (back left) hosted local executives from different companies for an Expanding Exploring event in the CBC Suite at the Durham Bulls Athlet...


CBC Sponsors Chuck Stone Summer Program for High School Seniors at UNC-CH

The 2022 Scholars for the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education & Media at UNC-CH Capitol Broadcasting Company once again proudly sponsored a learning...


CBC Sponsors Chuck Stone Summer Program for High School Seniors at UNC-CH Journalism School

The 2022 Scholars for the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education & Media...


The Making of a Miracle

Capitol Sports Vice President George Habel provides an update and the backstory behind the Durham Bulls Miracle League Park which is nearing completion in downt...


Watch Teeny Tiny Turtles Race at Rocky Mount Mills

The teeny tiny turtles are returning to Rocky Mount Mills on Saturday, July 30, 2022, in the 3rd annual event benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar Rive...


Marvel's Defenders of the Diamond Night and Fireworks Nights Highlight Upcoming Homestand

Kids Eat Free, Throwback Thursday with $2 Hot Dogs, and Kids Run The Bases also ...


A Secret Worth Sharing: MIX's Fun Summer Contest

It's no secret that MIX 101.5's Secret Celebrity is a big hit. Listeners are truly getting into the contest that has made a smash return, making another...


Bulls Durham & Carolina Panthers Nights & Two Fireworks Shows Highlight Upcoming Homestand

Friday & Saturday Night Fireworks, Ripken the Bat Dog, and Kids Run the Bases al...


Durham Bulls Weekend Homestand Rolling in with the Tide

The Tides are turning as Norfolk is in town for a three-game weekend series, July 22-24. The weather is right, come out to the DBAP each night and soak in the b...


Sunflowers are in full bloom at Dix Park

Share Your Photos on Dorthea Dix Park's Sunflowers are ready to be harvested soon! Get out to the fields while you still can. (photo by Maggie Bro...


Bulls' Homerun Net Gains for Food Bank Thanks to BCBSNC

Durham Bulls' Ruben Cardenas crosses home plate after hitting a homerun at the DBAP on Saturday, July 9, 2022. Did you know? Every time a Bulls player hit...


HighSchoolOT is Hiring for Football Season

We are filling up our staff for HighSchoolOT Live this fall and need people who love football and are interested in the sports media field to apply! Click the ...


Test drive the new faster, cleaner and more modern

Test drive the new, North Carolina's most popular news website, has been reimagined and redesigned, and you're invited to be among th...


Five Holly Springs Salamanders Highlight Coastal Plain League All-Star Squads

Ting Park set to host 2022 Coastal Plain League All-Star Game on Sunday, July 10 The Coastal Plain League has announced the rosters for the 2022 Coastal Plain ...


Five Holly Springs Salamanders, Eight Savannah Bananas Highlight Coastal Plain League All-Star Squads

Ting Park set to host 2022 Coastal Plain League All-Star Game on Sunday, July 10...


American Tobacco Tenants Reign on INDY's Best of Triangle List

Wow! Wow! Wow! American Tobacco is once again celebrating on campus and future partners being recognized as the best! Recently, several ATC tenants set a gold s...


2022 Black Founders Exchange at American Underground Open for Applications

Applications for the seventh annual Google for Startups Black Founders Exchange are now open. This week-long immersion program at American Underground in Durham...


99.9 The Fan's Awarded as 2022 North Carolina Sportscaster of Year

99.9 The Fan's Adam Gold (right) is awarded the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association on Monday, June 27, 2022. ...


New WRAL Documentary Durham Under Fire Debuts June 29th

New WRAL Documentary investigates how Durham is fighting the complex issue of gun violence In a city where big tech companies are flocking and home prices are ...


CBC & Leadership Triangle Offer Paid Fall Internships for HBCU Talent

Leadership Triangle and Capitol Broadcasting Company are excited to announce a partnership to engage and support emerging talent from our local HBCUs. Starting...


True crime meets forensic science: New podcast investigates some of the oldest cold cases in North Carolina

Episodes one and two of CBC's new What Remains Podcast came out on Wednesday...


Chatham County Line Ready for That Music Fest, Performs on WRAL

Chatham County Line's John Teer (left) & Dave Wilson stopped by the WRAL Azalea Gardens on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, during the WRAL Morning News on FOX 50 ...


June Durham Night Market This Thursday at American Tobacco

American Tobacco will once again play host to the Durham Night Market this Thursday, May 26, 2022. The open-air, free family friendly event showcasing Durham...


The Story Behind Follow The Truth and Winning a Regional Murrow Award

This project took 18 months to produce but has been in the making for almost 28 years, building on the work of many WRAL journalists who have covered this story...


That Music Fest THIS Friday & Saturday!

The final countdown is on! The highly anticipated That Music Fest takes over the Durham Bulls Athletic Park this Friday and Saturday. Tickets are still availa...


Freedmen's Villages and Juneteenth: A CBC DEIB Council-Created Resource

Capitol Broadcasting Company's 2022 DEIB Council has been hard at work creating resources to educate our employees on the significance of Juneteenth, featur...


Applications Now Being Accepted for 2022 WRAL Azalea Celebration

The 36th Annual WRAL Azalea Celebration is now accepting applications from non-profits for the 2022 plant giveaway. Sponsored by WRAL-TV, MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM, FOX...


Pride Night, Two Fireworks Shows, The Nine on Juneteenth Highlight Bulls' Next Homestand

Kids Eat Free Wednesday, Afforda-BULL Eats with $2 hot dogs, Father's Day pr...


Fandom On Display: A Perk Of Working at CBC

What a perk, walking into work: Corp's Anita Normanly (right) got a pic with singer/songwriter Kate Rhudy, who stopped by WRAL to play on the morning news o...


Grab Your Tickets Now for That Music Fest

Don't miss out! Grab tickets to That Music Fest now. There are only a few weeks left until That Station kicks off an incredible celebration of NC music insi...


American Tobacco Called Gold Standard for 2022 Best of Durham

Durham Magazine has released the 2022 Best of Durham winners, and American Tobacco tenants are shining bright. The publication called ATC the gold standard in...


Azalea Gardens bench dedicated in memory of WRAL employee killed in crash

A bench in the WRAL Azalea Gardens was dedicated to Erin Simanskis on June 1, 2022, Erin's 31st wedding anniversary. Family members, friends and coworkers ...


Bark in Park, $2 Hot Dog Night and Two Fireworks Shows Highlight Upcoming Homestand

Kids Eat Free, Ripken the Bat Dog, Princess and Pirates Night & Kids Run the Bas...


Guess Who is the Secret Celebrity to Win Free Money on MIX 101.5

Prepare yourself to start winning! Beginning Tuesday, May 31, every weekday at 8:05am, 9:05am, 1:05pm and 4:05pm MIX 101.5 will play a voice of a secret celebr...


A Final Newscast, Celebration for WRAL-TV Anchor David Crabtree

This is what more than a century of experience serving our community looks like (l to r): current WRAL-TV Anchors Debra Morgan & Gerald Owens with retired legen...


Shari Massengill Named Holly Springs Salamanders General Manager

2007 Rawlings Women Executive of the Year brings over 20 years of experience in baseball industry to Holly Springs The Holly Springs Salamanders have announced...


WRAL-TV's David Crabtree Bids Farewell on Anchor Desk Tonight

WRAL-TV Anchor David Crabtree will be on the anchor desk during WRAL's Evening News for the final time tonight, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. He will move on to ...


ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson & Jay Williams Live in 99.9 The Fan Studios

ESPN Radio's Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams are headed to Raleigh-Durham to broadcast from the 99.9 The Fan studios this Wednesday and Thursday, May 26 a...


$2 Hot Dog Night, Two Fireworks Shows & Cervezas Highlight Upcoming Homestand

Kids Eat Free, Two Fireworks Shows, Pre-Game Catch, Military Appreciation Night and Kids Run the Bases are also scheduled on the homestand After a six-game roa...


Come Meet the 2022 Salamanders Team on Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, fans will have the chance to meet this year's Holly Springs Salamanders team. The free event will take place at Black Dog Bottle S...


WRAL-TV Wins Three Regional Murrow Awards

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has honored WRAL News with three Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including one for Overall Excellence. T...


CBC Cares Ukraine Continues with Highlights from CBC Divisions

Every Capitol Broadcasting division is taking part in a CBC Cares effort to highlight the agencies and organizations supporting Ukraine. From parking lot flags...


CBC Stands with Ukraine

Capitol Broadcasting Company and our divisions are proud to highlight the agencies and organizations supporting Ukraine. Be a part of CBC Cares by learning mo...