The day of the flooded creek, I met a hiker I can't believe I never met before. His Trail Name is "Recom" -- as in the Parliamentary expression "Motion to recommit." Very cool Trail Name.
We met up and started walking together, exchanging the usual "Where did you start? How far are you going?" etc. Well. Three years ago, April 1, 2009, I started a thru-hike attempt from Springer Mountain in Georgia. Four days later, April 5, 2009, Recom started a thru-hike attempt from Springer. He was 2-3 days behind me almost the whole three months I hiked that year. I got to Harpers Ferry, WV (where I stopped) on June 30. He got there July 2. He hiked on across Maryland and stopped at PenMar, a town on the Mason-Dixon line.
People tend to leapfrog each other on the Trail all the time. You meet people, some of them get ahead of you or you get ahead of them, then go into town to resupply and get behind, and sooner or later you meet up again. You meet a lot of people and you keep meeting up after not seeing each other for a day or a week. Everybody knows everybody who's within 25 miles or so either direction. So here's Recom just a couple days behind and we never met up. That's almost impossible. Also nearly impossible is the fact that he didn't recognize the names of any of the people I knew and I didn't recognize any of his cohorts. We do share memories of incidents and some of the things people wrote in the trail registers.
Recom's hiking the rest of the Trail in sections now. He leaves his car at one end of a section, has a friend drive him to the other end, 10 to 15 miles away, and day-hikes back to his car. This is called "slackpacking" since you don't need to carry a full pack, just stuff for the day. It's an "authentic" way to hike the Trail, especially beneficial when you're older (he's my age, 60) or getting back into hiking after a layoff, or injured but still able to hike, just not with 30 pounds on your back. It's also a way to pull longer, faster miles if your time is tight.
So Recom and I did some hiking together Thursday and Friday last week. In a telescoped version of 2009, one would be ahead and the other behind, but by minutes or hours instead of days, and we *did* meet up, and it was fun every time. Thanks, Recom, happy hiking, and I hope I meet up with you again this summer!