Governor Goes On AT Walkabout

South Carolina's governor scares staff, wife after disappearing on the Appalachian Trail for four days without contact.
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South Carolina's governor scares staff, wife after disappearing on the Appalachian Trail for four days without contact.

Picture this: You've just weathered a stressful quarter on the job, battling co-workers over million-dollar decisions while toiling for long hours. Now that you've got a break, you just want to disappear on the Appalachian Trail, surrounded by nothing but nature, fellow hikers, and the long miles ahead. Sounds perfect, right?

Not if you're the governor of South Carolina. After concluding the most recent legislative session, Republican Governor Mark Sanford took a hush-hush vacation hiking along the Appalachian Trail. In typical AT fashion, he was out of contact with his staff, wife, and state leaders, but after four days with no communication, people started freaking out. The gov had to cut his hike short.

On Monday, he explained he'd left for the trail last Thursday "to kind of clear his head after the legislative session." The governor hasn't disclosed which states he hiked in, or whether he planned to thru-hike the AT or not. He's earned so much attention for his hiking jaunt that now he has to return to the office to quell the fears of fellow legislators.

Sanford didn't even tell his family exactly where he was going, which is generally a bad survival call, but you can't begrudge the man for wanting to disappear on the AT. His "mystery trip" has drawn the kind of hyperbolic concern for his welfare that only non-hikers can generate:

"The way things are in the world today and homeland security, we need the governor to be fingertips away."

"(W)hen those officials can't get in touch with the commander, it's really weird. That's not responsible."

They forgot to include the classic "oooh—what about the bears and snakes?!" on their list of grievances. We sincerely hope Sanford gets back out on the trail someday, but with all the hubbub that probably won't happen anytime soon.

Wonder if he had a classic AT trail name...The Guv? Chief Executor? Blaze Carolina? The choices are endless.

Anybody see The Guv out on the trail? Give us a shout if you did.

—Ted Alvarez

SC governor returns after mystery trip (AP)

Thanks to Greg