|Appalachian Hikers Share Experience With Dalton & Williamstown|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
11:26AM / Thursday, July 12, 2012
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — An emotional hike up the Appalachian Trail changed the lives of two siblings and their best friend.
Emily Ginger rests at the top of Mount Greylock in the midst of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.
Two years later, they are bringing their experience back to those they met along the way who helped them get through it.
On Saturday, July 14, at 2 p.m., The documentary of the journey Brandon and Katherine Imp took with Emily Ginger will be shown at Images Cinema on Saturday, July 14, at 2 p.m. and again on the following Monday in Dalton at the American Legion at 7 p.m.
The showing is part of a road trip the independent filmmakers are on through the towns along the trail.
"My favorite part of the Appalachian Trail was the towns and one of those was Bennington, Vt.," Katherine Imp said on Tuesday recalling the "trail angels" that helped them by feeding or giving them a place to sleep in the various towns. "I expected the trail would be physically, mentally and spiritually grueling but I didn't realize how many people along the way would support us ... In real life, people are really busy in their own life and community and don't take time to meet strangers."
Dalton is another "iconic" Appalachian Trail town where the three were helped by an individual. When the film "Beauty Beneath the Dirt" was completed, they contacted those "angels," who helped them set up public showings. The film is not a travel log but rather an account of the "transformation" the three went through.
"It's just like any five-month period of your life. But when you are only seeing the same people ...," Brandon Imp said. "On some days we're the best of friends and others, the worst enemies."
The film aspects — such as private confessionals that Katherine Imp was the first to see in the production stage and then heard all the "nasty" things the others said — took on the human aspect.
"My take on the Appalachian Trail is different from any other documentary on the subject," said Imp, the brainchild of both the film and the hike, who said it may be because she is a woman that the film took that angle.
That focus on relationships is even more unique given the characters — brother, sister and sister's best friend — are alone in the woods for 2,100 miles, they said. Knowing those dramas would unfold ahead of time, Katherine Imp wanted to make sure she captured it all on film.
The 26-year-old first heard about the trail in 2007 while working for Outward Bound. Shortly after while stressed out about finishing her legal studies at the University of Illinois, she decided she would do it. Meanwhile, her 21-year-old brother was just finishing up his undergraduate degrees at Cornell University and had some time off before starting medical school; 26-year-old Ginger was right there with them.
"I got the idea stuck in my head and the next thing I knew I was at the top of Springer Mountain (the start of the trail in Georgia)," Katherine Imp said.
The three hikers stopped in Dalton on their way through to collect supplies.
For months the three researched what to wear, items to bring, and what to expect. They then got in touch with a friend and film producer, Jason Furrer, to get a crash course in filmmaking and sorted out the legal releases they needed for where they were to shoot.
However, they missed preparing in one other way ...
"We didn't prepare physically, which wasn't the smartest," Brandon Imp said.
Katherine Imp lost some 20 pounds during the hike and said by the end, her body had withered to nearly nothing. She said they would spend hours in buffets to recharge and then burn off all those calories by hiking 20 miles each day.
"It was so amazing to eat non-stop and not feel guilty about it," Imp joked.
And while they didn't notice it at the time, they now look back on those months as life changing — not just weight changing.
After taking some time off after the hike, Imp went in to produce the film with Furrer, finishing this spring. With film ambitions in mind, the three wanted to somehow share their adventure.
"For independent films, you typically submit it to film festivals and we weren't sure how successful we'd be at them," Brandon Imp said. Like a band, they decided to take it on tour. "I quit my job and said 'I could man a tour from Georgia to Maine.'"
Brandon Imp is stopping in 13 towns along the trail through the month of July. The tour is being paid all out of pocket, so Imp said he will be bypassing hotel rooms to sleep at campsites or his car. But at most places, he's already met someone who will again provide him with a place to sleep.
While the group does hope the tour will generate support for the movie to become a commercial venture, right now, they are still excited about the journey they took together and with each other.
"Any time you have a challenge, you should expect ups and downs but if at the end of the day you enjoyed the experience, it was worth it," Katherine Imp said. "Making a film was one of the best and worst experiences of my life."