11: Congdon shelter to wilbur clearing shelter

Somehow it got cold. I woke up shivering, wishing I’d put on my leggings. It motivated me to get moving quicker. I said goodbye to Mississippi and headed out. 

I’d asked around at the shelter last night if anyone knew Danger, Brew, or Red Dragon, my trail family from Virginia in May. I knew from what Stormtrooper had told me that they should be right around this area, but I wondered if they were just north of Bennington. Tapeworm had told me that he knew red dragon, but he thought they were a day ahead. That would mean I’d missed them. I thought he was wrong, but had no basis for that. 
I though about texting Danger and asking, but decided to see what the trail had in store for me. 

I hiked on. 
Beaver ponds and a long lunch break later, the day was shaping up to be warm, but nice. 

I was headed down a hill, lost in my thoughts about who knows what, when a NOBO stepped aside for me. I started to say thanks, then stopped. 

For months, I’ve envisioned the moment I run into my friends on the trail. Would they be happy to see me? Would they recognize me? I knew I would run up to them, and hug them, and probably cry. 
The moment I recognized Brew, I stopped and bounced on the balls of my feet, jumping in place. “BREW!!” I yelled. I ran to him and we hugged around our packs. 
We sat and he ate while we waited for danger and red dragon. He filled me in on the past few months, and I drank in every moment. 
An hour passed, and they didn’t come. We asked another NOBO where they were. “Just chilling at the state line.” 
Eventually we heard red dragon’s laugh. Brew gave a hooty-hoo and RD answered. I heard Danger talking. I popped around the corner yelling “well y’all sure are slow!!” And they came running to me. 
It was everything I’d ever imagined. The excitement of seeing them, the relief that they’d missed you too, the joy of seeing for yourself how beautiful and healthy and strong they look. And they DO look beautiful and healthy and strong! All three of them. Brew looks like a Viking pirate. Danger should probably start a fitness channel. And RD is ready for leading man opera parts. No wasting away for this crew– the trail agrees with them. 
We had our joyful reunion, and every scenario I’d imagined was exceeded. I only wish stick and Stormtrooper could have been there too. 

Eventually I had to go south, though, and they had to go north. We said our goodbyes and promised to see each other, and hiked on. 
I hiked with the biggest smile on my face. And crossed into Massachusetts. That moment just convinced me, more than ever, that my flip flop was the right decision. 

A rock garden, a road walk, and a climb up Mt Williams put me to the shelter. I had dinner with Sunshine and Skye, a flip flopper and a LASHer, and am ready for bed with a huge grin on my face. 

Miles: 17.1

Trip total: 147.9

MVP: dangers Rangers (danger, brew, and RD)

LVP: heading south (but I have more adventure awaiting me!!)

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