Last night was unforgettable and easily my favorite night on trail so far! I’ll do my best to explain, but it was truly an authentic thru-hiking experience and full of events that were unexpected and seemingly irrational to “non-thru-hikers.” Before that though, about three days ago I hit mile 500! Today I will hit mile 548, which means officially 25% of the trail will be done. Crazy! Here’s a picture of me and a pony that woke me up in my tent right around mile 500:
So yesterday I was hiking with Super Girl, Wildcard, Tigger, Dead Cat, and Stretch. When I say “hiking with” I mean we all leave the shelter at our own pace, hike on our own and meet back up for lunch or at the end of the day. It’s kind of like going off to work (fun work) and meeting back at home for dinner. We left the shelter in the morning and hiked about 19 miles to an old schoolhouse that we heard would have trail magic and camping spots. About 7 miles out from the schoolhouse there was a controlled burn happening near the trail, but luckily we got to that section of the trail early enough that we didn’t have to take a detour. The day was awesome – great weather, pretty views, and even a visitor’s center with a real bathroom! When we got to the old schoolhouse we were happy to see bins filled with snacks, toiletries, first aide, fruit and drinks! I was even happier to see my friends Sticks and Paws at the schoolhouse! I hadn’t seen them in a few days since I had to wait for a lost credit card and then got sick in Damascus (there’s a stomach bug going around). I’m all good now!
As soon as we got to the schoolhouse, Tigger was very eager to have a hot meal so decided he was going to try and hitch into town by himself to a restaurant he heard about. After a few failed attempts, he was successful and was off to town! Meanwhile, we all set up our tents and began making dinner. While we were eating, we spotted a man on a horse across the meadow galloping towards us with his two dogs running along side. With the setting sun beating down on him, I swear this was the most majestic thing I’ve ever seen. He comes over to us and introduces himself while we play with the dogs. After some standard trail conversation, he rides back off into the distance. About an hour later, Tigger reappears in the passenger side of a car, gets out, opens the trunk, and pulls out a case of Bud Light. “There’s another one where that came from,” he said. Then he proceeds to get back in the car and drives off with his new friends. He said he would be back later. We were pumped about the beer, which pairs strangely well with our ramen and pasta sides. About an hour later we’re all talking and drinking as it starts to get dark and out of no where we hear synchronized chanting coming from down the road. The chanting gets louder and as the people come into focus we see Tigger in the back of a line of six random women. They continue chanting all the way up to the schoolhouse and cheer when they reach us. While looking for food in town, Tigger met these six women and decided it would be funny to teach them this chant and march all the way back to the schoolhouse with them just to say hi. We were all so confused, so entertained, but also not that surprised because random and weird things like this happen on the trail all the time. We all try and process what just happened while Tigger goes to a pickup truck about 50 feet away to get the other case of bud light out of the bed. The night continues.
Full of beer and food, the stars begin coming out. A few of us lay down on our backs on the porch of the schoolhouse and look at the stars, talking about the universe, space, and random stuff people never have time to talk about in “normal” life. It was a perfectly clear night and we had no where to be, not a worry in the world, and were excited knowing that in the morning we had an easy 3 mile walk to a breakfast restaurant right along the trail. (We just finished said breakfast and it was delicious!)
Reading this back, it doesn’t sound all that exciting. It’s really difficult to articulate these events and why times like these are so very special, but last night we all knew how lucky we are. As the man road up on his horse, as Tigger approached with his troop of chanting women, as the stars came out, no one took out their phones to take pictures. We all just experienced these random and blissful moments. It was a perfect night and everyone went to bed so happy and so thankful to be right where we are.
Here’s a picture of the schoolhouse and some of the many amazing people I have met along the trail:
Writing this post honestly made me tear up. I love this lifestyle so much and I feel so incredibly grateful to be here. What makes this night even more special is it came after two somewhat lonely days of trying to catch up to my friends after falling a little behind due to sickness. Like so much of the trail experience it is really hard to do it justice in a simple blog post. Hopefully this portrays the beauty in the simplicity, spontaneity, and surprise of the trail.
Now I’m off to hike! Meeting my mom in a couple days and excited to hike a bit with her! Lucky for her, this is the longest I’ve gone without a shower. I think it will be day 9 by the time I see her.
Some more random pictures I’ve taken over the past few days…