It is 7:30pm, and I am in my tent snuggled up in my sleeping bag. It's going to get cold tonight, forecast is for 37°. Subway, a hiker I just met tonight for the first time comes to my tent and softly says "Passion?" I open my tent zipper, and he holds out a couple thin mint cookies. "Would you like some cookies?" of course I did!
Usually, I would be out by the shelter or picnic table to socialize with the other hikers, but I wanted to make sure to stay warm before temps drop. I was reading a book on my kindle, but Subway inspired me to write a quick post. I had heard of his name, and he had been following just a day or two behind me for quite some time, he said. Each shelter has a journal that hikers can leave a quick note, thought, or message. That is how he knew he had been on my tracks. We didn't talk long when we met, I was in my tent, but had my vestibule open still, and could see who was coming in to camp. The brief interaction we had, made us instant hiking friends, thus the trip to my tent to offer a cookie gift. This may sound weird to those reading this, but this is exactly what it is like to hike the AT. I, "Passionflower", am a hiker along with "Subway", "Voltron", "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome", "Hopalong", "Wanderer", and anyone else who gets into camp late. We all have a goal in mind. We want to enjoy hiking the AT. We are all part of an instant family. We care about each other, help each other, share food, share motel rooms, discuss political issues, make fun of each other, and hope each other makes it to their goals. People wonder if I am alone out here. I am not.
In addition to the hikers, there are the trail angels. These people give us rides, feed us, and cheer us on. A couple days ago, we met a hiker who was finishing his trip the next day. There was also another hiker who was finishing his section hike the next day, but going in the opposite direction. Turns out they were both going to Nashville when done. Ken was going to take a bus home. Bob had a car. They had just met, and Bob instantly offered to pick Ken up at his hiking destination, and take him home to Nashville. Turns out, me and several other hikers were going to be at the pick up destination also, around lunch time. Bob, being the trail angel he is, showed up with a pizza for each hiker, and picked up Bob to take him home. He wouldn't accept payment, just said to "pay it forward". We did, as we shared the bounty with others who came through.
A few miles later, we came across a couple coolers left by a Christian group. One had sodas and the other had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Second lunch!! Score!
The generosity, kindness, and sense of community from the people among and around the trail are amazing. Not that there isn't that odd person that you might steer clear of, but for the most part the trail is full of "cookie gifting" individuals like Subway.
As a side note, we passed the mile today that means we have hiked over 25% of the trail. Woohoo!! There might be a celebration dance video coming soon....
Miles hiked: 556.1
Miles to go: 1628.1
Also, I had my first fall. I haven't met anyone else who hasn't fallen yet. I almost made it 500 miles. I fell at mile 497. Blarney!! No injuries, just got a little muddy.