Sun --> clouds --> rain
While I was eating at my picnic table last night, a couple came past and set up 2 large tents at the site past mine. After I went to bed, in came half a dozen teenagers: the Drum and Bugle Corps, who had been practicing all day and luckily were ready for bed themselves. They talked and laughed some but overall were nice and quiet. The moon was full; I could see it between my tarp and hammock. I guess it would be full; I started my hike exactly 4 weeks ago. None of it is what I expected. It doesn't begin to resemble the block party moving north from Georgia 3 years ago. The celebration, the camaraderie, the "we're all in this together" is missing; it's still somewhere in Virginia and I am out here largely on my own.
But... Knitting Bull met me at the lodge, eager to do a short hike. We were to meet her husband at a crossing 3 miles along, then she'd ride with him to the next crossing, where they'd hike in to meet me and hike back out to their car. Fun!! People! Pals!
Knitting Bull and I hiked well together. She actually pushed me to go a little faster, and I realized I've been going too slowly and carefully like some old woman. I can do better than that! Very soon we met her husband and they went on in their car and I started the next 4 miles. I was moving much faster than I have until now and made the 4 miles in under 2 hours, even though I stopped to take pictures and play with a dog.
They weren't at the crossing yet. I waited. Was this the right road? Yes, it had to be. Then, there they came.... on foot. Looking whupped. Turns out, the road was closed from a washout and they'd road-hiked uphill for 2 miles to reach me. They were ready for a rest, so we sat on some rocks and ate lunch. Knitting Bull had brought me a bottle of cold tea and it was glorious. Delicious! I drank it in about 4 swallows. I think I don't drink enough while hiking. I take half a dozen swallows every half hour to stay more or less hydrated without having to pee all the time. The tea made me feel like one of those neglected dogs on Animal Planet when someone finally gives them water. I need to drink more.
The stone-protector rubber toes on my shoes are coming unglued. Knitting Bull and I had been talking earlier about using Shoe Goo or silicone caulk to seal them back on. So we're eating lunch on the rocks, and I look down, and there is something someone dropped, a tube of rubber/plastic/vinyl cement. Sitting right there. This is what I call true Trail Magic. It's happened before. One other time, in Tennessee, I needed a tent guyline. I looked down and found one, right there. Amazing.
|Knitting Bull and Tony (sorry it's blurred.... my camera does that sometimes, don't know what's wrong with it)|
|Knitting Bull and me|
A turn down a dirt road brought me to the Brant Road Shelter. The road went past the shelter. I didn't know where it went, but it seemed this shelter was lonely and isolated but at the same time easily accessible from off the Trail. There were no other hikers there. I did not like this. I felt vulnerable, for the first time since I've started. I didn't want to stay in this shelter. Anyone could come in looking for who-knows-what. I looked around for a hammock site out of view from the road and the shelter. It took a long time to find one that was suitable. I finally got it rigged and went back to the shelter to eat, and found.... I could see my hammock from the shelter. Darn. Well, it was raining again; maybe predators don't like to come out in the rain.
I heard a voice and jumped out of my skin. A young fellow -- a hiker, not an outsider. He'd hiked 25 miles from Delaware Water Gap (which took me 2 days.) He's from Germany. He's here just to hike the Appalachian Trail. His trail name is Euro. We talked for quite a while. He's nice.
After I went up to my hammock, I heard voices and laughter and greetings. More hikers had come in. I was not alone anymore.