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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    08-14-2015
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    Rome, Georgia
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    Default Hello to the Backpackers, Catawba to James River, May 9 to 15

    Hello to all the folks I met while sectioning in Virginia last week. I remember some names, forgot others, but this year's group seemed particularly cordial.

    Firefly (Wayne from Lancaster, PA): a gentleman and a pleasure to mingle with on the trail. Grew up in Ethiopia, his parents serving there at a school. Fast on the trail. Always a smile and courteous.
    Shadow (Tom from Michigan): friendly, interested, thoughtful, a careful listener. Recently retired and moving as fast as he wants to. Last saw him at dinner at the BBQ restaurant in Daleville. Wish I'd seen him again.
    Papa Smurf (from Somerset County, Maine): Just retired from his family business and turned it over to his daughter (an old country store). Courteous, no-nonsense, politely and appropriately discouraged political talk at Ye Old BBQ Place.
    Guam (from Guam, originally from Maine): lost his wife early and settled in the Western Pacific to teach; now hiking towards his old home.
    Boot Scoot: Just graduated from Pitt, perpetually sunny disposition matched by her smile.
    Fix It and Third Mate: She just celebrated her birthday at Stanimals in Glasgow; he's finishing at maritime school in Maine; knows his knots and all terms nautical, including obscure ones like "larboard." Knows the chessboard. They are committed to one another.
    Picasso (Jack from Wisconsin): A fellow-thru hiker gave him the trail name after a shelter mouse nibbled his earlobe one night (unaware that Van Gogh, not Picasso, lost an ear). A friendly, quiet young man of deep thinking. Good chess player. The heart of a servant yet a leader.
    Salt (Mia from Sweden): Part of a quick-moving group, she appreciates sodium chloride and got her trail name when she salted pancakes.
    Four Pack: Young man had to get off the trail for three weeks due to serious case of trench foot. Finally got back on. I met him at Wilson Creek Shelter. Trail news later was that his foot issues returned, and he might've gotten off again.
    Recent Old Miss Grad (forgot his name): Got double-pneumonia in Tennessee in March. His mom flew in from Mississippi and drove him home from a hospital in Johnson City. Also had snow blindness. Back on the trail and moving fast, leaving a trail of good will.
    Dijory Doo (if I spelled it correctly): Named for a long, flute-like instrument in Australia. Part of a group of four, I've forgotten the names of the other three. They were bound for Trail Days, so doing big miles to James River Bridge middle of last week. Had a particularly interesting discussion with him at Salt Road, ranging from Buddhism to Scripture to Aldo Leopold.
    Moma Goose and her Three Goslings (from Houston, Texas): The goslings might've been late teens or early 20s: Chapstick, Freak Out, and I've forgotten the third: Started a thru in early March. Met them north of 4 Pines Hostel, where a cow and calf blocked the trail. They were laughing, relishing their time together.
    Ashland, Virginia, families heading to Matts Creek: two coupes with a bunch of children, ranging up to about 18. One papa is about to take his oldest, a daughter, off to college. Now that's a tough thing to do. These families were close-knit, loved, friendly.

    I don't believe I encountered any surly folks this year. Maybe two with perhaps sour countenances. But, hey, everyone gets tired, dirty, wet, sore, and is entitled to a measure of grumpiness. Grumps are out there, but this year's group seems particularly congenial.

    I began at 4 Pines on May 8 and finished at the James River on the 15th. McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs were even better than expected. Floyd Mountain seemed like the longest, hardest climb since perhaps North Carolina. That, followed by Apple Orchard Mountain a few hours later, was memorably challenging. Sudden cold, driving rain at the top of Apple Orchard (the "soccer ball" wasn't visible from the trail) pushed me into Thunder Ridge Shelter at 3 p.m. on Friday for an early bedtime. There's a two-mile stretch of trail north of High Cock Knob that seems to be the most level, least rocky I've experienced on the AT.

    Tented at Campbell Shelter, hotel in Daleville, stealth camped atop a nob near Black Horse Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the shelter at Bryant Ridge and Thunder Ridge, finished with a tenting night at Stanimal's in Glasgow (thanks to Adam and Magdelana for efficiently running a welcoming place that drew only nice people, at least during my visit).

    The people on the trail are interesting and a big part of the experience. I hike alone, but it sure is fun meeting you all.

  2. #2
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
    Join Date
    02-03-2017
    Location
    Lynchburg, VA
    Age
    43
    Posts
    636

    Default

    Awesome! Looks like you had a memorable time. The trail is a special place for sure.
    It is what it is.

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