|Backpack along trail|
A good day. Even in old thru-hiking times when I could do a short day into town but still kill some miles and get things accomplished in town, it was a good day. In trail parlance these are "near-0s," close to being "zeros," days with zero mileage accomplished. And I hiked up some mountains and down, despite still feeling ashamed of my pace compared to the blistering one of a thru-hiker.
Even though my express purpose is chilling out in the woods, I feel shame for holing up and writing in a shelter. Today I leisurely paced my way down the mountain and met some other thru-hikers (Snickers and Taco) on their way out from town, overburdened with junk food. They told me to camp in town behind a church that collaborates with a business, providing hikers cold showers and a place to tent.
In town, I met more hikers: Draggin and Pops—two more Gamers—and Flower Child, a girl who'd gone south on the trail and was now going north, a drifter who'd lived in Hawaii and the Florida Keys. We ate together and camped together and talked about the lure of the trail—how it draws you in and holds you captive while torturing you. Why do I love it so much when it is so painful?
The two Gamers, too, complained about going too slow, starting on February 1 and having everyone pass them. I said: what's the rush? You have till October 15. I feel like I say this to everyone.