Thursday, June 11, 2015

Falls Village, Connecticut, to Pine Swamp Brook Lean-to

9.0 miles

Mountain laurel, 2015
Tonight I am camping with two flip-floppers from Harpers Ferry (Blood Blister and Pack) and a section hiker finishing off his thru-hike (Vermont Visitor), who got off at Bear Mountain in New York in 1985.  I've been meeting a lot of flip-floppers lately, starting in Harpers Ferry and at other points along the trail, heading to Maine.  I've also been meeting people finishing off abandoned thru-hikes—they got off in New York, or Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts, and they're here to complete.  It seems fun and I am envious, to some degree, of the push to Katahdin.

It also seems an entirely different thing than a single-season "through" hike, hiking through, end to end, from Georgia to Maine. I feel like I can spot the Georgia-to-Mainers, or Gamers [GA->ME], as I've started calling them.  Their packs are dirtier, their gear lighter, the glint in their eyes crazier.  I don't judge the flip-floppers—hike your own hike—but they're still in their first quarter, shaking down gear, finding their legs.

Passing me on the trail, I can tell the Gamers because they're relieved when I don't ask them where they started, or what their trail name is.  I nod and say, have a good hike.  They move past at their three-mile-an-hour pace, covering in one day what took me three.  If someone stops to talk, it's undoubtedly a section hiker, or flipper, or someone finishing off a thru-hike from a couple of years back.

I like camping with flippers, though.  Pack, an older gentleman hiking with an external farm pack, put it best:  it makes me feel resentment, he said.  Speaking of the mega-milers who blow past, as the rest of us (me) suffer through ten-mile days, footsore and weary.  I keep trying to remember, again, as cliched as it is:  hike your own hike.  Even them—maybe it's as hard for them to go slow as it'd be for me to go fast.

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