First, we welcome several new friends from Virginia and thank the many followers of the blog that have sent comments and well wishes our way. We truly wish we could respond to each of you individually but just know that we eagerly read and GREATLY appreciate your kind words and continued support.
A friend from Ohio, Dale F., asked if we could share some stories about folks we’ve met on the Appalachian Trail and their trail names. We are happy to comply with that request since there are lots of colorful characters you should get to know.
In the last post, we told you about young Jeff whom we just met up with again today. Jeff still doesn’t have a trail name that he likes so we are calling him Doc because he has an extensive first aid kit including a snakebite kit. That kit could have come in handy today as we passed a point on the trail with a handwritten note taped to a log that read, “Rattlesnake 25 ft ahead”. The note was dated yesterday and fortunately we neither saw or heard that slithering threat.
On Day 15 we met Shaggy and Scooby on the A.T. Shaggy is in his early twenties with long curly hair held back with a colorful buff and he sports a fairly long beard. He has some very colorful ink on his right lower leg and a goofy laugh that he shares often. His sidekick, Scooby, is a loveable female German Shepherd that carries her own backpack of food. A few days after we met the pair, Shaggy made a difficult decision to send Scooby home because she was struggling with sore paws and legs. We’ve seen several hikers with dogs but we certainly miss Scooby. Shaggy is such a kind soul that he wanted to donate to our “Hike for John”, as have several other hikers we’ve met.
On this date, our path surprisingly intersected with the Bartram Trail, which encompasses about 100 miles in western North Carolina. Be sure to check out the page on our website about William Bartram to find the significance of the Bartram Trail for Chief.
We are at a point in our hike that we see many of the same hikers every few days. Most of those folks who are serious about a NOBO hike are still on the trail. Let’s pause for some…
Hiker lingo– NOBO – northbound; SOBO – southbound; YOYO – hiking one direction the entire way then turning around to hike the other way (that’s crazy x2)!
We met Re-calc on sunny Day 16 as we left Wayah Bald Lookout. Wayah is the Cherokee word for wolf and we have heard the howling on the chilly mountain nights. In his mid-sixties, Re-calc hails from a small town near Kansas City and is retired from the pharmaceutical field. Re-calc said he got his trail name from getting lost and climbing the wrong mountain, not once, but twice. While training for his hike, Re-calc said he couldn’t find a bag of sand to weigh down his backpack so he used a bag of manure (really!?!?). He said this day he needed some company and hiked with us for the day, helping to push us to a record 16-mile day. Obviously he is fast but not too good with directions. Re-calc said that he saw the two bear cubs on the day we went through that area but didn’t get a photo because he was running for safety. A section hiker we met the next day, Driver, was able to obtain a coveted photo of the twin cubs. Driver is from Medina, Ohio and on a two week hike before he returns to his truck driving position. Re-calc asked Driver if he was a Michigan State fan. To an Ohio State fan that is a blasphemous question! Like we shared, Re-calc isn’t too good with directions.
Section Hiker – someone who hikes portions of the trail for weeks or months over a period of time/years.
Imagine our surprise to discover another Chief on the Appalachian Trail. For purposes of clarification we will call him Chief 2 Feathers as he has been given variations of the trail name as he section hiked for several years. Chief 2F is age 59 and retired as an EMT/Fire chief. He hails from Virginia but spent most of his life in Connecticut as evidenced by a thick New England accent. What we find most remarkable is that Chief 2F had open heart surgery last September and has been training in rehab with his backpack since January. He was released by his cardiologist to hike a large portion of the trail and he hasn’t looked back. He scales the mountain trails and skims over treacherous rock paths faster than we can follow. Chief 2F’s goal is to complete all sections of the A.T. within a ten year span. In addition to all the normal gear, Chief 2F also carries a guitar in his backpack and he joyfully shares his repertoire of Christian and folk songs at night in camp.
On day 18, we were hiking toward a stretch of North Carolina road where we noticed a quaint picnic area. Chief said he wished there was a Coke machine because it would have been a perfect venue to enjoy a refreshing drink. Not five minutes passed when a car pulled up and two trail angels, Mouse and Georgia, got out with some trail magic.
Trail Magic – unexpected food and drinks shared with any hiker passing by, typically that which is most craved but not available to hikers.
Mouse and Georgia are a young couple from Atlanta who just completed a six-week section hike. They came back to share trail magic with other hikers and supplied a cooler of soft drinks (Yes, Chief got his icy cold Coke), chips, PB&J sandwiches, apples, oranges, and homemade chocolate covered peanuts. May God bless them and all of our new friends on the A.T. There is no pretense or positions on the trail. Each person can be exactly the person God created them to be and enjoy the sweetness of the name of their choosing.
Talk With You Soon, Chief and Toad