|Yes, hiking makes me happy! (2015)|
|Our gang of slackpacking thru-hikers from 2004--click here to read about this same section during my thru-hike|
I am at a shelter tonight with just one other thru-hiker, Lorax, a Nobo going crazy fast. I’m proud of my fourteen miles—I wasn’t sure I’d make it—but it’s still weird to be in a position to dispense advice from my experience. Mainly I just want to shake all of these north bounders. You’re missing the trail! I want to say.
I know it won’t make a difference. Youth is wasted on the young, and a thru-hike is wasted on the thru-hiker. And then it isn’t, too. I know it wouldn’t have made a difference to me either, when I thru-hiked, if some veteran had shaken me. I would have still hiked town stop to town stop, deli sandwich to deli sandwich.
Maybe it’s the only way to survive it. But it’s weird how I came out here to be in the woods, to revisit the trail, and all the thru-hikers want to do is get away from it. Race to the next road crossing, the next town stop. I passed by both a town and a grill, .3 off of the trail, today—I’d have never done either as a thru-hiker.
But it was a glorious day of hiking. A sun-drenched morning across the top of the mountain, and then down into the valley for six miles of relatively flat pasture walking in bright sun. Lunch on a bridge crossing a stream, and then a brutal three-mile climb at the end of the day, fueled by a root beer from a trail angel whose daughter is thru-hiking in Virginia. And then the shelter: never soon enough but always too soon. And now I sleep, and do it all again tomorrow.
[Hiking the same section in 2004.]