I felt great today after our wonderful stay in Glasgow last night. Our host Charlie got up early and made us a huge stack of pancakes before dropping us off at the trailhead. He sent us off on our morning climb with full bellies and some great AT stories.
Charlie thru hiked the AT last year and is trail name was Pilgrim. His last name is Pilgrim and he his from Massachusetts. Also, his starting tag number was 1620. He helped explain that was the date the Mayflower arrive. Sometimes trail names are cool like this and work for several reasons. Sometimes they are just things you whack your head on. When he got to Glasgow last year he was suffering from really bad shin splints and a serious infection in one of his legs. He ended up staying with Stanley a/k/a Stanimal, the owner of the inn, for two weeks while his leg healed and he figured out how work through this splints. Stanimal literally nursed him back to the Trail and he was one proud hiker when he got to Katahdin.
It took him over 7 months to complete the Trail. I love Charlie’s story because behind all of the recovery time and work he did to solve his problems was an intense desire to keep hiking. This experience has grabbed me in the same way and I really respect his patience and determination to find a way. He was so changed by the experience in Glasgow that when he finished the Trail he accepted a job from Stanimal to run the inn. He does a beautiful job of it too.
We hit the 800 mark around lunchtime and had fun gathering pine cones to make the celebration numbers. I think we missed the 700 mark but what’s a 100 miles here or there, right? I can’t believe that we will be out of Virginia in just a little over 200 miles. Virginia has owned us for a good while now and I will be happy when I finally cross the state line.
Pilgrim asked us a great question at breakfast today. He asked what part of the Trail experience was our favorite? Not specific places per se but what were the best parts of your day. Without a doubt, my favorite is bath time at the river when I’m done hiking for the day. We always make sure that we camp near a creek or river for easy water access. I set up my tent and then take my time at the water. The best part of my day is the 30 minutes or so I spend gathering my water for the night, rinsing off and soaking my feet. The sun is usually pretty low at that time of the day but still warm on the water. The experience just feels so instinctive and natural. After walking all day, the humans gather at the water before eating and resting. I don’t think my ancestors ate Mac n Cheese for dinner but just about everything else is the same.
We have a two hard days coming up but we’ve be told the climbs are worth it. On Sunday morning we will reach the top of Priest Mountain and you are expected to confess your Trail transgressions in the log book at the shelter at the summit. I hope they have a lot of paper.