Everything seems a little brighter today. Maybe because I’m not freezing or dirty , or maybe because I spent the night warm and even woke up with sweaty feet. Maybe because I left the car with a hug from Buttercup. All I know is, I’m hiking in a really, really good mood today.
Mike, the NOBO thru-hiker, let me use some of his tenacious tape to repair my rain jacket, so that’s fixed. I had a great breakfast joking around with Gonzo and Luke, talking politics with Carpenter, and eating 3 (yes, THREE) eggs and cereal and two pieces of toast.
I’ve been hesitant to give anyone my Redstar trail name. For one, it didn’t seem exactly legit. Last night I had two possible trail names: Gloss (I was slathering on Carmex) and Bullshit (1. Sorry mom and 2. I am really good at that game) but neither stuck. This morning, Mike asked if red was my favorite color, because of my bag and my hair. I said no, but that’s what my hiking buddy calls me, Red Star. And everyone approved and said that should be my trail name, so now it’s official. Buttercup loved it, too. I feel like…I don’t know, I guess like less of a fake hiker and more of a real hiker now. Acceptance has always been important to me. It’s good to know these things about yourself (this is tongue in cheek).
I cleaned out my food bag, replaced everything, and said my goodbyes (temporary to some, since all of the SOBO thru-hikers will be passing me at some point today, those speed demons). Buttercup and Tumbles drove me to the trailhead and I started walking.
I’m writing this sitting next to Carnes Cascade on a sweet little bench. I’m wrapped up in nostalgia and memories of friends from France and college and camp, those silly little moments you have with people you’ve just met. That’s what this feels like. I can see why people want to keep on doing this. The time alone keeps it from getting stale. The characters always change. People pop in and out of your life, and all the while you’re surrounded by a landscape that changes and grows and somehow stays a little bit the same.
Hiking is supposed to be a little bit solitary, but the people you meet…well, ask Stewart about that guy we met in July who tried to take a wagon on the Cumberland trail. The stories you get make it even better.
I stopped for this beautiful view. I think that’s when Carpenter passed me. That’s all we can figure anyways.
Ever wondered what happens when you release balloons?
Yes, I’m carrying it out. Leave no trace, and if you take a picture of someone else’s trash, you should probably pack it out too.
I have no swag, but the blue ridge does! (I’m so sorry)
I ran into Luke and Gonzo right as I finished peeing today (great timing!) and hiked with them for a bit. Gonzo left me and Luke in his dust and I figured that was the last I’d see of him, but when Luke and I made it to the shelter, Carpenter and Gonzo were both sitting there. It was a great surprise. We still had a lot of daylight to gather wood and eat dinner, and we’ve spent the evening around the fire sharing stories and laughing and eating. I’m in my sleeping bag now, carpenter is sitting at the side of the shelter on Facebook, and Luke and Gonzo are messing around by the fire. It’s nice and comfortable, considering I only met 2/3 of them yesterday.
Reheating my leftover pizza- stone fired pizza! How gourmet!
Today’s MVP: gonzo and carpenter. They’re going to have to bang out some miles to make the Monday train to New England, but they cut today short to stay at this shelter. That was nice.
LVP: both knees, right foot. I’m dreaming of my Birkenstocks but I think they’re in Tennessee.
Tomorrow is a 14 mile day. I think it’ll be rough.
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Oh. I was picturing Buttercup as a 300 lb bald man who works as a cook at the hostel, BUT I SEE NOW THAT IS INCORRECT.