Woods & Wilds: The Podcast Episode 8

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This week our hosts Kimala Luna from Dogwood Alliance and Elizabeth Lashay from SlayTheMic speak with the author of The Unlikely Thru-Hiker, Derick Lugo. Derick not only talks with us about his adventures on the AT and how the origin story of his nickname, but also his love of writing and what led him to write a book in the first place.

Be sure to check out Derick’s website here. You can also read the full transcript of our interview with Derick below.

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Check out the full transcript of our interview with Derick!

Full Transcript:

Elizabeth Lashay:
All right, I’m Elizabeth Lashay with Slay the Mic and I am joined by my wonderful cohost.

Kimala Luna:
I’m Kimala Luna with Dogwood Alliance. And today, we have the absolute pleasure of being here with author, adventurer, speaker, Derick Lugo, who had never hiked or camped a day in his life. This Brooklyn-born, New York City urbanite hopped on a train to Georgia, grabbed a taxi at the station, and took the cab driver to drop him off at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Then he did as he’s always done, he put one foot in front of the other and never looked back. And I want to take a second before bringing Derick on to read the description of his book, The Unlike Thru-Hiker, and you can read more about that on his website, dericklugo.com. That’s D-E-R-I-C-K-L-U-G-O dot com.

Derick Lugo had never been hiking, he certainly couldn’t imagine going more than a day without manicuring his goatee, but with a job cut short and no immediate plans, this New Yorker began to think about what he might do with months of free time. He had heard of the Appalachian Trail, but he had never seriously considered attempting to hike all 2,192 miles of it. Suddenly, he found himself asking, could he do it?The Unlikely Thru-Hiker is the story of a young, black man setting off from the city with an extremely overweight pack and a willfully can-do attitude. What follows are lessons of preparation, humility, race relations and nature’s wild unpredictability. Through it all, Derick, AKA Mr. Fabulous, refuses to let any challenge squash his inner Pollyanna, persevering with humor, tenacity, and an unshakeable commitment to grooming that sees him from Georgia to Maine. Derick, we are so happy to have you. Hello!

Derick Lugo:
Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Elizabeth Lashay:
Oh my goodness. I’m excited. I think before we jump into everything that you are, what did you pack in your backpack when you first started on your hike?

Derick Lugo:
In my pack, I made the mistake that many novice hikers do when they start a thru-hike and that is I over packed. And I had maybe, I don’t know, I think I had five liters of water. I had two weeks’ worth of food, and all I needed was maybe two, three, at the most, three days’ worth. And the water source was just all along the Appalachian trail, especially in the beginning, and that’s what really made my pack heavy. My pack, I would say, my food bag itself was like 15 pounds. So I had all the right gear. I just had too much food, too much water, and the gear that I had, I didn’t know how to use. And also, I got to say, at one point, I had about five books in my backpack. I know a lot of thru-hikers out there are like, “What the heck does this dude… has he not heard of a Kindle or something.” Yeah. I was that dude.

Also, I hiked in 2012, and that was before… now they have an app, and my phone was actually used just for an emergency. And even now, if I would ever do a thru-hike, I wouldn’t use my phone, I would set that aside. But I know that’s huge now. There’s trail runners, which I can’t imagine hiking with trail runners, but people do it. I use boots. And apps, phones, it’s a totally different world. But, for the most part, everything I had was what I needed. Some stuff I ended up getting rid of, like the books and the extra food. But, for the most part, I had the right food and the right gear.

Kimala Luna:
I want to start at the very beginning. So you’ve made this plan and you’re feeling gung-ho and you’re going to jump in. What were the first initial fears that came up when you realized that this was a reality that you had signed up for?

Derick Lugo:
I don’t know if I had fears. This was a challenge for me, so I don’t think I had fears, until I actually got in there. The one thing that I was worried about was ticks, because I saw some kind of documentary that said ticks are all over the AT, people are getting Lyme disease and they would have a feast in these dreads. So the one thing I decided I was going to do was always sleep in my tent, and not in the shelter because that’s where the mice are and they’re carrying ticks. So that was one of my biggest fears, more so than bears, people, animals, or anything like that. It was those little critters. And then, once I got on the trail, everything scared me. I’m from Brooklyn, man. I don’t walk out in the wilderness. It was the first time I ever slept outside.
So walking out there by myself, just little sounds like squirrels running on dry leaves would scare me. I would jump around and I would see logs that looked like dinosaurs, dragons. I was scared. So I would say my imagination kind of went wild. But after a while, I was still a little spooked, but not as much. Like they say, you get your hiking legs after a certain amount of days or weeks. And then, if someone had trained for the AT and someone that didn’t, within a few weeks, you’re hiking pretty much… not exactly the same, but you’re a hiker, is my point.

Elizabeth Lashay:
So in the description, you go back to saying you put one foot in front of the other, just like you’ve always done. And when has been another moment in your life that you have just kept going, putting one foot in front of the other, and what are some similarities to hiking out in nature, to that experience?

Derick Lugo:
Uh-huh (affirmative). That’s a good question, actually. I would say, before I thru-hiked, I was always looking for a new adventure. The adventure didn’t need to be traveling all over the place, but I wanted to try something new, because in my head, this is my only life and I want to do as much as possible. And my thing is, I’m a story teller, and I love hearing stories. I love hearing stories from older people. I can sit next to an old dude telling stories for hours. And I want to be that dude when I get older, I want to have stories. And in order to have stories, I need to do stuff. I need to travel.
So, I would say, my first time going to Europe, I went for a month to Spain. I speak Spanish, but it’s a different culture, and I spent a whole month just traveling around Spain, and just getting used to that culture, and each region was different and dialect was a little different, so I had to adjust to that. And then I went from there to traveling around Europe and stuff. So learning new cultures and just trying to better my knowledge of this planet we live on. And I remember being in Europe and people asking me about certain states in the US, and I realized that I didn’t travel a lot in the US. Back then, I thought to get the adventure I had to leave the country. And they brought that to my attention, once I realized that was a thing, I decided, “Okay, let me stay in the US and do fun stuff that I can do here.”
So I’m a big baseball fan so I decided to travel… hit all the major league baseball parks. And as I did that, I hit all the major cities and I got to discover their food, their culture, and stuff like that. So my thing has always been to discover new places, new things. And people say, “What? You hit the lottery? How do you do this?” Nah, man, brother is always on a budget, but I was smart. I was smart and I did it the right way where I would travel close. And then, there was other times when I was able to go to Cali and I have friends and family there, so I was able to spend it with them. So my mindset was always to just explore whatever I can, not just other countries, but even my surroundings.

Elizabeth Lashay:
I love that.

Kimala Luna:
I love it to, and I want to talk about storytelling. When did you first fall in love with the power of storytelling and what about it really drug you to it, to become a storyteller?

Derick Lugo:
Well, I’m going to say it this way, when I was a kid, I used to get in trouble all the time. I used to talk my way out of everything. I was really good at convincing people certain things. And I was like, “How do you believe that? How’d I get away with that?” So I’ve always loved just telling stories and love the power of having people just sit there or stand there and just watch you. Sometimes I’ll tell a ridiculous story, knowing that they know it’s not true, but just watching people, the way they’re like, “Man, this could be? No.” And I’m like, “No, I’m kidding.” But I love that, ever since I was a little kid, just getting in trouble. And as I got older, in my teens and early 20s, just being a knucklehead and getting out of stuff.
But also, again, like I said, my grandfather, older people in my neighborhood, I used to just love hearing their childhood, their stories or if someone went to… they were in the army or something, just these different stories. And the funny thing about that is, I wasn’t really a big reader when I was a kid. I became a big reader when I was in my early 20s, because I don’t know why, but I was always word of mouth. That’s the way I was hearing stories and that’s the way I was sharing my story. So it started really early. Writing started around the same time as when someone gave me this one book and they were like, “Dude, read this. It’s a good book.” And the big was this thick. It was a Stephen King, The Stand, and that’s about, I don’t know, 1,000 pages and it was during the summer and I’m like, “I’m not reading this, dude. There’s no way I’m going to read this.”
And they forced it on me, I started reading it. It took me all summer long, but I fell in love the way he described the environment and also the people. In my book, I get messages from readers and followers that say that they love my interaction with people. Because, for me, the AT, hiking the Appalachian Trail, even the outdoors is more than just the trail. It’s the people that’s on it, the people that maintain it, the people that are hiking it, people that you encounter. So I’m always huge on character development in stories. So that’s why I fell in love with Stephen King and a lot of his books, and I wanted to do the same thing with my book, and I think it came across that way. So yeah, I started super young.

Elizabeth Lashay:
Tell us a little bit about the journey. I can imagine long nights and different types of weather that you experienced and the people that were on the trail. Were there any hikers that really stood out to you?

Derick Lugo:
Okay. Besides myself?

Elizabeth Lashay:
Yes, besides yourself.

Derick Lugo:
Well, a few things there, there’s few answers in that. I approached the Appalachian Trail with the mindset that I was going to not hike in the perfect weather. Hikers go to the Appalachian Trail, not all hikers, but many hikers, they go and then they’re like, “Oh, it’s going to be great. The trail is flat. It’s going to be beautiful weather.” And it’s not always like that. In my head, I decided, “I’m going to be hiking in cold weather.” And my peeps are from the tropics and we like the heat, and I knew I was going to walk into this. And I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to accept it.” The cold, rain, I ended up hiking in snow. So accepting that and pretty much embracing it helped me along the way. I had a determination and that’s what got me started, but I think having that mindset where, just accept everything.
And then, also, trying to keep it positive, because I had so much going against me already, because I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never pitched a tent. I never camped out, never did any of that, never hiked. First time I did it was on my first day on Springer Mountain, during my thru-hike. Didn’t know if I loved to hike. I was just like, “I’m going to get from Georgia to Maine.” That’s it. And I quickly learned that I’m going to go back to the trail not being just about the trail itself, the terrain, but the people. I was embraced. There was not judgment on the trail. Now, they probably thought, “This dude is never going to make it.” There was this one hiker, I saw several hikers I saw a month or two later and they’re like, “Yo dude, you’re still on the trail. Wow, that’s great.” So the one thing I would say is that there was no judgment and everyone helped me along the way.
My first day, the first chapter of my book is called Lessons on Springer Mountain, just because I learned how to pitch my tent that day, how to use my mini stove, how to hang a bear bag, how to filter my water, because I had a pump. The journey went from a challenge to loving the trail to embracing it, to now, this is my world and I was going to try to finish the trail in five months. I ended up doing it six, because I extended it a little bit, took some zeroes. Zeroes are days that you take off from hiking and you can stay in a small town. And that was another thing, being from New York City, the biggest city in the world, I call it the capital city of the world. I’m not used to small towns. And when I went and saw these small towns and the people and how amazing they were. I was like, “Wow, this is a really beautiful thing.”
And now, I actually went from New York City, I now live in a smaller city, Asheville, North Carolina, which I love. I’m surrounded by mountains, so that was the thing. It went from a challenge to being a lifestyle.

Kimala Luna:
So I guess I want to know, did you know that you were going to write a book before you went out there or did you keep track of it while you were out there? Were you processing what you were learning as you were going or, yeah, is it something that you did after? I’d like to know about that.
Derick Lugo:
I was not planning to write about it. I have a stack of novels that I have a manuscript, that I’ve written, and I’ve had a journal since I was a teenager. And I did have a journal when I thru-hiked. I didn’t think I was going to, because, for me, there’s many reasons why I did this, but having a plan that I was going to write about it may have taken away from my experience. The reason I decided to write about it was, it was interesting that I started with not knowing what to do, and I thought a lot of people did that. I didn’t realize that… I mean, many people do, but it’s still kind of rare. Normally people have hiked in the past. You don’t go from not doing something, to doing it every day for six months. It’s crazy.
I think about it now, and when people ask me, when they’re advise, they’re like, “I’ve never hiked before. You think I can just jump in there and do it?” I’m like, “Nah, nah. First find out if you like hiking. Then you decide and take your time. Do you research. Read my book. Learn from the mistakes I made.” So I would say, “No,” and the reason was people kept coming up to me… in the season that I thru-hiked I was actually the only black person that thru-hiked it that season. And I didn’t realize that was a thing. I didn’t realize that there wasn’t a lot of black people that thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. I thought everyone did this or whoever wanted to would do it. And people just kept coming up to me and not just saying, “Hey, you’re black, you’re on the trail.” But they were saying, “Look man, we’re so happy you’re on the trail. This is great.” And I didn’t get it. I was like, “Well, I’m happy you’re on the trail. This is great.”
And they would come out and say, “You know what. You’re the only black person. We don’t see a lot of black people on the trail.” I tell this one story all the time, because it’s one of my favorites. And I was hiking up the Smokies and there was this older guy in his late 60s and the Smokies there’s a bunch of different trails that go in and out across the Appalachian Trail and along. And the guy stopped in front of me, I was going north, he was going south, and he stopped in front of me, he said, “Hey, I’ve been doing these trails for 17 years and you’re the sixth black person I’ve seen thru-hiking on the trail.” And I was like, “Whoa.” And I kept getting that from people, they were like, “Wow. I haven’t seen anyone out here. This is great.” And people were just… they were happy that I was on the trail, that’s why they kept bringing it up. It wasn’t like, “Hey, you’re black. What are you doing on the trail?” No, people were like, “This is awesome, we love that you’re here.”
And also, I didn’t really dress like a thru-hiker. I don’t know exactly how a hiker dresses, but I have dreads, I had different color bandanas all over the place. I looked like a dude from Times Square that would be juggling or something and asking for money or something. I looked like an act for a while. I look at pictures now and I’m like, “Man, what were you thinking?”

Kimala Luna:
So when we’re talking about hiking and racial stereotypes, one, why do you think that it is such a rare occasion that black individuals are deciding to go get out in nature or go on these hikes?

Derick Lugo:
Well, I can’t speak for the entire black community, but I can speak about my experience and my family, my friends. My friends, they didn’t know anything about the AT, now that after so many years and I have a book out, now they think they’re experts. They’re like, “Yeah, Appalachian Trail.” When I told them I was going to hike it, read the first chapter, it’s like, “Dude, you are the most metrosexual black dude we know. There’s no way you’re going to survive out there.” I would say my experience is knowledge, I didn’t know anything about the AT until someone handed me the book a Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. And the only reason why they handed it to me was because I’m a big reader. And they said it’s a funny read. They didn’t say anything about it being about the AT or anything like that. They just said, “Read it. It’s funny.” It was hilarious, but the one thing that he made sound so hard and challenging was something that I was like, “Okay, I really want to do that now.”
I would say, lack of knowledge. I wish I had a book that looked like mine that had a dude with the dreadlocks. I’m like, “Oh, okay.” Because this is actually kid-friendly, as well. And also, financially, my parents didn’t have a tent or camping gear that they can hand down to me. It’s not what we do. Again, I’m from Brooklyn, we go to the beach or a park, Yankee Stadium. We don’t do that. Also, it’s the lore. Bad things happen to black people in the woods. You talk about the Underground Railroad, we were only in the woods because we had to escape. In the south, the rural south, bad things happen to black people. So I would say those three things are big factors. Why is that changing now? I don’t know, man. It’s great. I love it. I love it, because now I’m seeing a lot more people of color, not just black, but Indian, all different flavors out there, and it’s a beautiful thing. I think, honestly, it has a lot to do with writings, with books and movies that have been coming out.
How many books have come out about hiking? Wild. The Unlikely Thru-Hiker. A Walk in the Woods. There’s so many material out there and movies. So I think now they’re depicting more of the outdoors, more than just it being scary, than Jason being out there and chasing teenagers and stuff. I think society is starting to put a more positive angle to the outdoors for others. And also, the big organizations, I can only talk about the Appalachian Trail, because I did that, but I know there’s a PCT and other West Coast organizations. But the Appalachian trail conservancy and the Appalachian Mountain Club, they published my book. Those organizations are huge and they’re really big on inclusiveness. Trust me, I know this, because there was a meeting I was invited to, and they’re really serious about that. And not just now, because of what’s going on, they’ve been doing this for years.
In fact, I would’ve never gotten noticed, if it wasn’t for these organizations, because I like to talk about the AT. I have stories, and they would send me out to do talks. And while I was doing those talks, I was also writing about it. And then, once they realized I had a story to share, then they were like, “Let’s get this dude published.” So I think it’s a combination of things, and I know that more people want it. And black people are more aware of it now, so I think that’s where the shift is happening. I’m hoping in 10, 20 years… I’m going to step back a little, I did a talk in October of last year at Bend, Oregon, and I was the keynote speaker there and it was like 300 people. And as I’m looking out at the audience, I was the only black person there, and they were eager. One of the questions was, “How do we change this?,” like I had the answer.
But what I said to them was, “I’m hoping in a few years that I’ll see more people of all different colors in the audience and doing talks like this.” It’s going to take time. There’s no one answer on how to do it. I think doing this, having a podcast with different hikers and people that have a voice, a strong voice is how things change and how we can get more people of all types out there.

Kimala Luna:
That’s beautiful. So obviously, there was a moment, since you hiked all of the Appalachian Trail, all 2,192 miles, where you switched from feeling less comfortable to more comfortable. And so, can you talk about that transition and also just how your relationship to nature has transformed through this experience?

Derick Lugo:
I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, I can tell you how it happened. From the jump, I started by myself, I walked through the Approach Trail with the arches, I thought I was just going to do this by myself and within minutes I was hiking with someone. The hiking community just was there for me. I would say within a few days, I think it was four days, I found myself with a group. It wasn’t hard, I should say, to easily go into not knowing what I was doing, to actually just doing it, because I was with a group that had my back and I wasn’t scared, at night I was fine. Now, a month later, when I found myself hiking by myself, that was one of the first nights I was by myself, I was a little scared, because I wasn’t surrounded by people. So I know the people helped me along the way and that’s what made it easier.
I would say, once I found myself hiking by myself and my weakness, I would say, I said this in the beginning and then I decided to stop saying it because what you put out there happens, and I was saying that the mountains were my weakness. Even when I’d go for a run, when there’s a climb, I’m like, “Oh man, I got to do this climb.” And I had decided I was going to stop staying that and I was going to rage up these mountains. I was going to be a beast when it came to these mountains, and I ended up being pretty good, once I changed that mindset. So I would say, again, going back to knowing that you’re doing something amazing and keeping it positive. I had this mantra on the trail where along the trail there’s registers that you sign how your day was or whatever, and then you sign your name. And then, the last thing I would write was, “Peace, love, and all that good stuff.” And every time I wrote it, every time I saw it, I was like, “Okay, cool. That’s what I’m out here for.”
When I was at the Approach Trail and I looked at the trail I said, “What am I doing out here?” I had a little pain in my stomach. I was like, “Oh man, I’m homesick already.” And then, as quick as that happened, I was like, “No, man. You’re out here, you got nowhere else to go, just go.” So I would say, and as far as what I got out of it, obviously the love of the wilderness. I love the outdoors, which I didn’t even know that was a thing. I thought buildings were trees in New York City. So I have a love of the outdoors and hiking and it’s one of the reasons we moved out here to North Carolina, surrounded by mountains. But also, I would say my love or my understanding or mankind has grown. I can easily say I love you to friends now, where I used to never. I can hang out with friends and then, when we part ways, I say, “I love you.” They say, “I love you,” because they know that’s who I am.
So having more love for mankind is what I got out of hiking the Appalachian Trail and I’m a people person, but man, after that, when strangers were giving me stuff to help me out along the way, I was like, “Yo, I got to put this in a bottle and take it back with me, because this is the way it should be.”

Elizabeth Lashay:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I know that we are seeing such a shift in our world, especially with the pandemic and racial injustice, and just consistent and constant things we’re watching on the news, social media, a variety of different places. And when you were talking about restoring that human kindness in humankind, what would be your solution? And I know that’s a huge question, but only for use to think about and answer, what would be the solution for you in times of chaos?

Derick Lugo:
And I want to get this clear, so you’re asking me what’s the solution for more of a peaceful existence?

Elizabeth Lashay:
Yes.

Derick Lugo:
Oh man. That is a loaded question. I wish I had one wish and it’s like, “Okay, world peace.” I think the main thing is that we need to start listening to each other. And I’m going to break it down to this and just listen before you start judging me. Right now we’re divided, it’s obvious we’re a divided country, and I don’t want to sit on either side. I have friends that are, I don’t want to get politic, but I have friends that are republicans and I have friends that are democratic, I have friends that are all over the place. I listen to both sides. And I know people that, if they know someone is a Trump supporter, they will not be their friend anymore, they’re like, “That’s it.” I want to know why or I want to know why you’re a Biden supporter. I want to know why. Tell me why. Don’t just say you’re a supporter, and this got political, which I didn’t want, but I think I’m going to back, I don’t want to go too deep into the rabbit hole.
I think just listening to each other. There’s a lot of anger out there and I get it, I get it. There’s a lot of violence, there’s the riots, but there’s also peaceful protest, which I support. What happens is, we put people in a group. So whenever something crazy happens during a peaceful protest, it was everyone that was there earlier in the day and even at 11:00 at night. I went through it in New York City earlier this year, where I walked through a peaceful protest, and then all of a sudden it got crazy. Short and sweet answer would be listening to other people. I know you have your opinion, everyone has an opinion of what’s going on, but just stepping back and listening. And try to listen to what other people… how they feel. Why do they think that way? And then go from there. I’m never trying to change anyone’s opinion on anything. It’s just a waste of breath.
I will try to share what I know and also, I always try to put a positive twist in it, and I know that may be a little cliché, but if you read my book, there’s stuff that happens to me on the trail and I’m like, “Gosh darn it, I hate that this happened,” but there needs to be a positive lesson in it all, because if there isn’t a positive lesson then why are living? Are we just living to be angry? I want the end result to be positive, so that’s why I listen to both sides and try to hit it off in the middle and then go from there. I don’t have the solution, I’m not Gandhi, but I try my best.

Kimala Luna:
I hear what you’re saying. It’s true. I feel like oftentimes the way we’re taught to debate or argue our opinions is we just dig into our own side, instead of trying to reach across the line and have any kind of understanding. And it’s like, “Well, if you’re not going to take the time to hear what I’m saying, then I’m definitely not going to take the time to hear what you’re saying.” And so, here we are, just two people not hearing anything different or new. So yeah, that’s a good point that you brought up.

Derick Lugo:
It’s like trying to have a conversation with an angry drunk dude. That ain’t going to happen. You got to step back and sober up.

Kimala Luna:
Well, so this is a good segue, I got to know, how did you get your nickname, Mr. Fabulous?

Derick Lugo:
It’s not obvious. I’m out of here.

Kimala Luna:
I mean, it’s pretty obvious. I was just wondering if there was a story behind it.

Derick Lugo:
There is a story, there is a story. Like I mentioned earlier, when I started the trail, there’s a thing where hikers, when you’re hiking out on the trail, there’s nowhere really to bathe. And I found out that hikers, eventually, they can go a week or two without bathing. And I was like, “Oh, that ain’t going to be. There’s no way I’m going to be out there and I’m going to stink.” And I’ve always, a little less more after I hiked the Appalachian Trail, but before that, I used to always get my hair did, I used to groom myself, get manicures, wear some nice clothes, just look solid. So I went into the Appalachian Trail, I would joke around about it, as well, I would say, “I wish I had a full-length mirror I could pull out of backpack and just hook myself up.” And another hiker, he learned about my inexperience, also how I am as far as grooming myself every night. I would go to a water source and give myself a bird bath, make sure I was half decent, always felt like I was fresh, fresh as far as fresh and clean, compared to other hikers.
And he was like, “You know what? You’re Mr. Fabulous.” And I was like, “What?” And he’s like, “Yeah, you’re Mr. Fabulous.” I was like, “There’s no way I’m going to go around calling myself Mr. Fabulous.” That stuff’s kind of egocentric stuff. I can’t even do that. So Mr. Fabulous is the guy from Blues Brothers, he was this suave… I think he was a trumpet player. And he was like, “Just try it. Just use that name and see what happens.” And I started wandering around calling myself Mr. Fabulous, kind of apologizing for it saying, “I’m sorry, but they call me Mr. Fabulous,” thinking that people were going to judge me for it. And nah, people embraced it. They would laugh and want to hear the story, there was a story. And I wanted a trail name that had a story behind it, there’s was other trail names being thrown at me like Marley and New York. And I was like, “Ah, there’s nothing there. It’s flat.” This one had layers, it had stories, a story for me to share.
So yeah, I didn’t name myself, but I think it was the way I walked into the Appalachian trail thinking I was going to be a certain way and I was for a while. I would say the entire AT, I was clean-shaven. I had a goatee, but I was clean-shaven and I thought I smelled better than other hikers, but who knows. But I would say, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with other people, you guys may be the first, when I got off the trail I think I went four, five, six days without taking a shower and I thought it was magical. And I was like, “Why didn’t I do this on the trail? You would think I would do this on the trail?” And I used to always make sure I was clean, even before I went to bed, and now it’s like, “All right, dude. You had a long day, you can just go to sleep.” I don’t go five days, it was just that one time. I don’t go five days without a bath. What I’m saying is, I’m not as finicky with the way I look as I used to. So yeah, in that way, the trail did change me.

Elizabeth Lashay:
So that was an exclusive premiere-

Kimala Luna:
Yeah, man.

Elizabeth Lashay:
… in terms of letting us-

Derick Lugo:
Mr. Fabulous did not bathe for a week when he got home. No one’s going to believe you.
Elizabeth Lashay:
Right. What do you think is next? I mean, I know I was reading and walking barefoot on the Sahara Desert, but maybe, maybe not, not really, just kidding. But, I mean, what is next for you?
There’s a lot going on. Well, this year was going to be my book tour year, where I was just going to travel around, hit some of the trails during my thru-hike, visit those towns and do talks. It was just talks and hikes. That changed. More virtual talks now. Still hiking, not as much in the beginning when this all happened. But now that I’m in the mountains, I can do it. I would say just I’m focusing on doing more talks. I am working on a few other projects. I have a children’s book version of The Unlikely Thru-Hiker I’m working on. The audio version of The Unlikely Thru-Hiker, I have a deal with Audible and we’re still trying to piece it together. And then, as far as adventures, I do hikes here and there. I’m doing a three week hike in a few days. Another thru-hike might be a little difficult. Although, [Shanti 00:39:44] and I, she was my hiking partner the second half of my thru-hike and in two years we’re playing around with the idea of thru-hiking the PCT for our 10 year anniversary of the AT, our AT hike.
So I’m going to continue writing, continue hiking, and just sharing my outdoor stories and adventure and try to inspire a little Derick that had never heard about the AT or the outdoors, because I wish I had that when I was a kid. So yeah, more writing, more than ever, and hiking. Yeah.

Elizabeth Lashay:
So no Mr. Fabulous action figures?
Derick Lugo:
I’m working on it. I’m working on it.
Elizabeth Lashay:
Okay, okay.
Derick Lugo:
I got these GI Joe figures, I can put a mop head on it and just there you go.
Elizabeth Lashay:
There you go.
Kimala Luna:
Well, we are nearing the end of our time and maybe gone a little over, just because we were having a such a good time. And I just want to make sure, for folks tuning in, if you haven’t opened up a new tab and gone to dericklugo.com and ordered his book yet, you should do that right now. And you can find him at Derick Lugo on Instagram. That’s at D-E-R-I-C-K-L-U-G-O and at Derick Lugo on Facebook, by the same spelling. And Derick, do you have any peace, love, and all that good stuff to leave our listeners today?
Derick Lugo:
Just keep it positive. If you can’t keep it positive, follow people that are positive. I’m not just saying that so you can follow me. But there’s so many people out there that have something special to share and it’ll touch you. Just keep it positive, keep it real. Life is so amazing. It’s so amazing. So that’s all I have for you.
Kimala Luna:
Yay. Thank you so much Derick.

Elizabeth Lashay:
Thank you.

Derick Lugo:
Yeah.

Kimala Luna:
We’ll see you next time.

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