Sorry for the delay in posting this update but today is my first chance in front of a computer since leaving Minnesota. At the end of February I opted to take a bus to the trail instead of dropping my car off again, due in part to the surprisingly great experience I had in November busing up to Maine. The experience this time: two breakdowns totaling 10 hours, multiple assaults (including one on a police officer) and a variety of scary situations. Yeah.When the Greyhound arrived in Roanoke, I caught the local bus to Blacksburg where Sagacious and Blueberry- two Sobo friends from the trail- helped me immensely over the course of the next week as I hiked in a semicircle around their town.
The first four days back on the trail caught me by surprise: I trudged through deep snow the entire time and never saw another hiker. Between the trail conditions and my lack of trail legs, mileage was hard to come by. I tented all but one night and was happy at the gear changes I had made in the interim.
Since then, I’ve hiked an additional four days in mixed weather: one was sunny and 60, the others were rainy and colder. I decided to stay in town tonight (3/14) due to weather reports of thunderstorms. Rain hiking is run-of-the-mill on the AT, but for thunderstorms I will gladly take a night off if I’m near a town.
I’m surprised at how emotional it feels being back. You’d think I’d resent Virginia with all my foot troubles here in November, but I can’t help but love this place. The successive layers of hills and ridges, cast in that fabulous blue tint, as far as the eye can see, puts me at home in a way I can’t describe without sounding cheesy.
Hitching into town this morning, the first truck picked me up and Joe- the driver and recent transplant from Long Island, New York- insisted on taking me out for breakfast. We had breakfast sandwiches at Subway, which was a deja vu. Wendy and I picked up Toast, Stringbean and Ducky at this very spot in November on the way to hikers thanksgiving at Swish’ grandparents condo.
After 8 days hiking everything has fallen back into place, with the major exception being I’ve only seen 2 other hikers (both sectioners) on the trail. This is much more what I envisioned when I lit out from Maine in July- solitude, isolation, quiet. I thrive in these conditions, so I am enjoying it immensely, but I can’t help but miss my ‘trail family.’ Nearly every shelter I pass has an encouraging note from one of them. There is something spectacularly surreal about hiking 15 miles into the woods, arriving cold and tired at an isolated shelter blanketed in snow, to find a personal message left by a hiker friend I haven’t seen in months.
Before I go, some unfinished business. People ask me often how/why I chose the name Maxheap as my trail name. Its a very long story, but one that begins with a drawing my oldest son did (using a computer mouse) when he was a kid. Here’s max.
Lastly, I’ve been listening to a lot of great music to pass the time, but its a song that is not on my iPod that has been stuck in my mind for days. Its an old Tom T. Hall tune that my mom- a big fan of country and western- played a lot when I was a kid. Follow the above link to hear the whole song, but I’ll leave you with the chorus, along with my sincere gratitude for tuning in again to catch up on my progress. I’ll update again in a week or so. Cheers.
I washed my face in the morning dew, Bathed my soul in the sun. Washed my face in the morning dew, And kept on moving along.
Happy birthday tomorrow Wendy! Thank you for making this entire year possible!