Near Browns Gap [mile 881ish]
Best day ever.
Because of hiking? No. Because of weather? Hell, no.
Because I got a visit from home!
I didn’t sleep much, for the second night in a row—this time because I was on a sideways slope, and because I knew there was bear activity near my campsite. I know there’s always bear activity, but when a bear was within fifty feet of the tent hours earlier, I found it a little harder to ignore. Plus I had to sleep with an eye toward where I was rolling. I didn’t want to split the tent on a sharp rock.
Anyway, not much sleep. I woke up early and feeling lousy. And as I packed up, I wondered what I’d do if my friends offered me a ride home. I texted Blackbird at one point and said I wasn’t sure if my willpower was strong enough to say no to that.
I hiked. It got sunny and hot and humid, and the negative mood lingered just like the weight in my bloated pack. The morning was mostly uphill, it seemed. I was worried about connecting wih my friends, since I wasn’t going to be able to make it as far as the meeting place. Luckily I had enough cell service to get out a text, and we eventually hooked up at the Black Rock parking area.
Ohmygods… it was unbelievably great to see them and hug them! I’d been afraid I was going to burst into tears, but my reaction was just the opposite! I was so happy!
We had a nice long brunch down at the Loft Mountain Wayside and got all caught up. Since I’ve been doing a southbound-style hike (ie, more solitary), the connection with people who know me was like a shot of adrenaline. I loved it! Thank you, Janet and Karen! Honestly, how great was that? They drove hours and hours just to have brunch and see some bears (I snagged a picture of one from the car window). 🙂 I’m so touched and grateful. Plus they brought trail magic from my friend Marge and a card from my pals up north! Thank you so much, ladies! It was overwhelming in the best possible way. (Also, thank you, brother, for managing the new p-style! It arrived safe and sound!)
If I decide to hike only as far as home (1100 miles; the halfway point), I might call Janet for a ride. But Karen had the best advice: Just worry about today.
Oh, and how excellent was it to have coffee? I might reconsider the stove if I stay on past Pine Grove Furnace. We’ll see. Honestly, I need to drop pack weight, not add it back in—and I’m so dialed down that dropping weight would be nigh impossible, unless I went with a cuben pack and a one-person tarptent. And I don’t want to make big infrastructure changes at this point.
Guess who showed up at the wayside? Codger and Trashbag! It was great to see them. They’re a half day ahead now, I suppose.
After Janet and Karen dropped me back at Black Rock, I hiked another handful of miles. Coincidentally, the summit of Black Rock was also like a visit from home—miles of rocks. I don’t mean a rocky trail; I mean a glacial boulder field.
Then the trail dipped back into the woods, and I stopped when I stopped. It feels like rain is coming: dark and windy and a little chill. I can hear the Waynesboro train in the far distance. I love trains. Crows are cawing. The breeze is rustling the treetops.
And that’s that! I’ll probably have breakfast tomorrow again at the wayside, and after that, who knows? I’m off the clock. But today was made of recharge!