I thought I would keep a running tally of people I am meeting on the trail and update it from time to time. I am not going to really spend much time editing this or checking for spelling or anything. You get what you get. This is more for my future self, than anything specific, but I thought some of you might find it kinda fun, so decided to publish the page. This trail really is about the people…..
Day 1: Springer Mountain Shelter
Ray: From Chicago originally, now living in NC I think. Thru Hiker, but did not have a real plan. Was going to take things as it came. I tented next to him my first night at Springer Mountain Shelter. He left a few minutes before me the next day and I caught up to him at the Springer Mountain parking lot. I put in my contacts and left before he did. Have not seen him since. Assume he is behind me.
Jenny: Originally from LaGrange, now in Nashville. Left before me on Day 2 by about 10 minutes. I caught up to her and passed her on a flat area as was flying on the flats. Let her know that Ray might have given her her trail name as he kept referring to her as LaGrange. She did not seem too enamored with that name and after passing me on an uphill a bit later I have not seen her again. Assume she is in front of me.
Day 2: Cooper Mountain Gap
Grandma Willow, Orlando, Croc, Rock Steady, Old Guy, Foursome, Mighty Mouse
Some of these people I am naming as I don’t know their names. I will fill in some stories later on some of these folks too as we keep overlapping each other on days.
Grandma Willow: From California. Camps under a tarp. Packs extremely light, maybe 20 pounds.
Orlando: Mid 20’s petite gal from Orlando. Told me where to get water.
Old Guy: This guy was interesting. Reminded me of Gandolf or maybe Dumbledore in appearance. I got here late and he came in after me. First thing he said to me was “Generally I don’t like hikers, but I am very glad to see all of you.” His story continues….
Foursome: Two younger kids (early 30’s) and their fathers. Setup an aggressive schedule and were on a timetable to get from A to B and it was killing them. Not sure how much fun they were having. I used the same tree for my bear bag that night as them. The next morning called for potential of thunderstorms and I was intending to stay in my tent until the rain was over. When it was and I got up they were gone. Never saw them again.
Mighty Mouse, Croc and Rock Steady: Their stories intertwine and cover a lot of days, but this was the first day I met all three of them. Read my blog day 2 and 3 for the story and how these three gave me my trail name of Samaritan. Mighty Mouse smartly got off the trail at Neel Gap and went home. I am very glad I am not reading about him in a news story.
Day 3: Gooch Gap
Hooper, Orlando, Milwaukee (Crooner), Hailstones, Pat, University Gal
Hooper: Ran into her on the trail. In the late summer she works at a hostel in Maine so there is a chance I will see her again this summer. She was slackpacking and knocking off a portion of the trail she had not done.
Orlando: Was at the shelter when I got there, but hiked on.
University Gal: We asked her where she started her day. Springer Mountain. Ugh. Took me three days to get here and she does it in one. She had two finals yet to take so was headed to town the next day for wifi to take her exams. Was a student at the University of South Florida. Presumably behind me since she went off trail to take exams, but given her pace she could be anywhere by now.
Milwaukee (Crooner): I named him Milwaukee, because, well, he was from Milwaukee. Mid 20’s. Did not realize I would be spending time with him at this point, but we are going to end up hiking together for quite a stretch I think.
Hailstones & Pat: Hailstones has previously hiked the trail. Knew a ton about this area. Pat was hiking with him and wants pictures when I am done.
Old Guy (returns): I spent sometime with him today on the trail. He was very talkative, which surprised me after yesterday’s odd introduction. He used to shoot black and white and develop his own. He even said at one point he was loading his own canisters with film. All in all, this guy was very interesting and if his pace was faster I would have liked to have talked to him more. I am sure his stories would have been very entertaining. His pace was about 4, to 4.5 miles per day and he knew it and was ok with it. Presumably behind me. Presumably will never see again.
Day 4: Lance Creek
German Dude, Spaniard Dude, Young Strong Buck, Orlando, Grandma Willow
Spaniard Dude: Was hiking along the path where the tent pads were located as we were setting up. His English was nonexistent, but we knew what he wanted. He kept pointing at the trail beneath his feet and saying “AT?” We pointed him in the right direction and he was gone.
German Dude: This guy flew in from Germany a couple of nights ago. Very light pack, too much so in my opinion. Could speak English. Was very happy to be here and just kinda blended in to the group.
Young Strong Buck: Wants to do the trail in 100 days. I think he can. Gave him some tips from Bigfoots blog. Never saw him again. Good luck dude!
Orlando: Poor Orlando. She was freezing. I am in a TShirt and shorts and she has on long everything and is still cold. Wanted to hike further, but there was a bear canister area just ahead of us and she did not have one so, like us, she was stuck.
Grandma Willow: Is on a sojourn of sorts. This (GA) is apparently the land of her ancestors and she wanted to travel it. She if from California and in her upper 60’s. She just says upper 60’s now. Nothing more specific. She talks. A lot. To everything. She talks to her food, to her gear, her tent, the ground. Etc. Nonstop. I am glad she does not talk in her sleep as she spent the night right next to me. She is slower so I presume I will never see her again.
Day 5: Neel Gap
Orlando, Mighty Mouse, Croc, Rock Steady, Milwaukee (Crooner), Big Pack Dudes
Orlando made it here and called it a trip after this night. She was not thru hiking, but only had a short time on the trail and the next couple of days are full of rain and cold. She does not like either and caught a shuttle somewhere. She works in the tourism industry in Orlando and apparently her job entails portraying Orlando as more than a theme park destination. Yeah, that job sounds impossible. Good Luck with that Orlando!
Mighty Mouse: Made the correct decision to go home from here. Smart move.
Milwaukee, Croc, Rock Steady: All hiked on.
Big Pack Dudes: This covers three individuals and they could all be the same. Big bulky young dudes with huge packs. One guy alone sent home over 20 pounds of stuff and his pack was still heavier than mine. Insanity! He plans on thru hiking next year. One of the other guy had a huge pack and used to build trail in Montana. He is used to heavy weight. However, I passed him the next day as he was taking a break. Sorry big pack dudes, but this shit is tough enough. Why carry 20 or 30 pounds or more of stuff you really don’t need at all. And that is from a guy who is not an ultralight enthusiast either.
Day 6: Low Gap Shelter
Two guys with dogs, but that is about it. Rain rain rain….no time to strike up new conversation.
Day 7: Unicoi Gap
Red Beard, Montreal Guy
Read Beard: A tall thin young guy who is a hiking maniac. Sleeps in a bivy. Loves hiking. Loves any weather. After trail magic kept on hiking.
Montreal Guy: I won’t see him again, but he was in a Tshirt and shorts at trail magic site and was all wet. Did not bother him in the least. It was cold, windy and freezing. Oh to be from Canada. I bet that is what Orlando would say.
Day 8: Helen Montana
Bar Dude: Watched the game at the bar last night and the bartenders were amazing to watch. Both of him were muscle bound dudes. And they knew where every bottle was located and were doing the long /pours and all of that stuff. Fun to watch during breaks in the game. Crazy.
Day 9: Rachel and AJ
Rachel and AJ are a couple of kids (mid 20’s) out hiking for a couple of weeks. They share a hammock and seem to be having a great time. They alternate cooking over wood or using canister fuel. AJ prefers wood and Rachel gives him a hard time about it. They were fun and shared their fire this evening so they are OK. They are staying at Rock Gap shelter tonight and we will probably be crisscrossing paths again starting tomorrow.
Day 10: Hot Legs, Pelle, Weird Red Hair Dude
Pelle – strong hiker, but had too much going on mentally. Had a “special friend” back home, and a job offer of some nature. Had foot issues. I suspect he will hike ahead of us a few more days and be off the trail.
Weird Red Hair Dude – Young kid. Weird as fuck. (sorry Mom). The first thing he did when he knew we were staying at Top of GA hostel was lead off with this long explanation of how when he stays at hostels he likes to cook dinner for everyone if they would pitch in for the cost of the meal and do cleanup. And he always had an opinion and his was the right opinion. This is one of those people that knows how to do it and the only way it works is the way he does it. Strange character. Hiking Southbound. Thankfully.
Hot Legs – Not real sure where to go with this guy. A 2014 PCT thru hiker. Very strong hiker. Very very knowledgeable. Base weight (everything except food and water) of 6 pounds. Full pack only about 15 pounds. Could talk about anything related to hiking and speak knowledgeably about it. However, I think he might have confirmed something I have felt about the ultralighters….they tend to depend a bit more on others. The reason I say this is we had a discussion about the shelters. I know I wrote about the shelters and made a bit of fun at the kids who monopolize the shelters due to their trail speed, to the expense of us old sloggers who then have to deal with setting up in the rain etc…. Well, he told a story of how at the end of a long day he got to the shelter. It was raining. It was full. And he made room for himself anyway. I suspect he could have set up in the rain and dealt with the uncomfortability of it all, but instead because he had a long day he just muscled his way into the shelter. It is a sign of the thru hiker entitlement mentality that I really think needs to go. We are no better than anyone else out here and if you carry even less, you damn well better be able to take care of yourself rather than relying on everyone else to pick up the slack you are unwilling to carry.
Day 11: Roman and Emily
Roman is from the Ukraine, although he now lives in the states. Again mid 20’s. Yes, I missed my chance I should have done this damn trail between Marquette and Law School. Roman is a very nice guy, but I think he has puppy eyes for Emily…..tee hee.
Emily is from France. Has the accent, but speaks excellent English. Very strong hiker. Only reason I get to see them much is they are taking the same zero as I am at the same hotel. As of tomorrow morning I won’t see either of these two again. Emily is very bubbly. Everything excites her. Almost like a child. It is cool to see the trail and life through her eyes, as fleeting as it is as she is always on the move.