The New Jersey section of the Trail was some of my favorite. For starters, it isn’t Pennsylvania and the path along the border of New York takes you through the most beautiful farming and wetland areas in the state. I drove down from New Hampshire this morning to give some magic to Jitter and her new tramily. She is hiking with Red Dot from Houston, Silver Fox from Atlanta and Van Go from Upper Peninsula Wisconsin. I met them at a campsite a few miles down the Trail at mile 1317 with sub sandwiches, cokes and apples. Dessert was Oreo double stuffs. I promise I will stop eating like this tomorrow but hey – I hiked a whole three miles to get here so I deserve it. All kidding aside – it’s great not to be hungry all the time and I feel like I am really healing well and my energy is coming back strong. I felt pretty empty for most of Maine but not anymore.
This trail magic business is a blast. I love giving back what I received and it’s fun to shop for the goodies that I know they will love. The favorite hiker foods are well known but what everyone talks about the most is fresh fruit. One of Jitter’s friends Red Dot waxed eloquently tonight about fresh pineapple that some trail angels brought out to them last week. It is such a nice break from the processed junk that we normally rely on to get us through.
It is also great to be back on the Trail for a little bit. After all of the driving today, it was so relaxing to get back to the blazes and the quiet of the campground. A strong storm moved through right before I got on Trail and there is a cool breeze coming up over the small ridgeline that we are sleeping on tonight. I am far enough away not to hear traffic and I will sleep really well out here. Hiker midnight comes early and it’s my favorite time of the day when we crawl into our tents around 8:00 and spend some quiet time.
I am going to hike out with these folks tomorrow morning and then head down to the Shenandoah area to see if I can catch any NOBOs that started in late May. I’ve heard there are a few groups out there and I’d love to meet them and encourage them along to the finish. It’s funny how much everyone wants to see my finish photo. I’m not even offering to show it to them but they ask to see it and also want me to text them a copy. We share the same dream and I think seeing it makes them feel like it could happen to them. I hope it helps and I don’t get sick of bragging about our perfect weather conditions on our summit day.
You know – getting stuck out on the Trail is a thing. I’ve met so many hikers that ended up finishing and then never really leaving it. They end up working at one of the Trail businesses or staring their own. Some just stay out here and do magic and hike until they need to go off Trail to make some money. It sounded crazy to me at first but I get it now. The friendly faces and constant sense of adventure are powerful forces. I don’t want to give them up either. It’s happy and quiet out here. The people that you hang out with are on an emotional and physical journey that I want to be a part of. I admire each of them for what they are doing. We come from so many different backgrounds but we share the misery and joys of long distance hiking like brothers and sisters at a remote extreme summer camp. It’s a camp filled with crazy adults that run around the woods all day hiking, swimming in ponds and telling rattlesnake stories. Sign me up for that again any day.