In March of 2001, four friends set out from Georgia's Springer Mountain for a six month through-hike on the Appalachian Trail. Two of them, Brian Burnham and Leon Godwin, brought along video cameras and documented the journey, capturing the delirium and tedium of life in the woods.
This film is the first effort of Burnham and Godwin, both recent graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill who form the entirety of Cirque Productions, their corporate video and outdoor documentary video company (www.CirqueVideo.com). Crisply edited, with a deft mixture of folk and rock music, Trek contains breathtaking vistas without stinting on the grueling experience of hiking an average of 15 miles a day, rain or shine.
The Appalachian Trail is 2,168 miles long, and it passes through 14 states before it terminates at Katahdin, Maine. We're informed at the outset that, "Each year, about 2000 people take off at Springer Mountain, intending to hike through. About 90 per cent of them fail, leaving only about 200 to finish." Not all four of our hikers make it, but they manage to beat the odds along with many other colorful characters they meet on the trail.
Trek is an inspiring valentine to restless youth as well as the can-do spirit that's so often celebrated on sports shows and reality programs like Survivor (and one episode in the film recalls such programs explicitly when two hikers hold a milk-chugging contest with predictable results). The year being 2001, the hikers were on the trail on Sept. 11th when they received the news of the chaos erupting in a world far away from their idyll. Consequently, the remainder of the trip seems to have become a patriotic enterprise, with hikers summitting Katahdin on their last day carrying American flags. --David Fellerath
Trek: A Journey on the Appalachian Trail will be screened at Cary's REI store on March 19th at 6 p.m. The following night, the film will be shown at the same time at the REI's Southpoint location. The film is available for purchase at the stores and on Amazon.com.