A very happy New Year to all! My apologies for the radio silence since mid-November but I’ve been busy having fun with family, catching up with friends and celebrating the holidays. This is just a quick note to confirm that I’ve firmed up my plan to return to the trail during the last week of February, contingent on my heel being ready and on the weather being at or above zero. I’m optimistic on both counts.
One of the things I am asked about often is whether I have any before and after pictures from when I started the trail, to now. I didn’t take any specifically for that purpose, but I’ve fished out the below two pictures which are pretty representative of the transformation so far.
Since I know that some of you are interested, I’m happy to report that the other hikers I walked with have all completed their treks, the last of whom was Mav on New Year’s eve! Birdie finished her flipflop in Dalevillle, Virginia just after Thanksgiving and then Swish and SlimJim wrapped up mid December, followed by Herc, Hydro, Dirtybird, Stringbean, Toastface, Ducky, as well as Captain Morgan, Forest Moistener, TenaciousD, Rodeo, Sagacious and Blueberry. I hadn’t seen some of them since New York so it was great to know they finished, making me antsy to get back for my remaining miles. The following is from another site but its about some of the above folks I was closest to on the trail. Its inside-jokey (and therefore annoying) but feel free to read if interested.
Prologue In the Year of our Lord- two thousand fourteen, my weary mind did ponder. A journey through mountains and fields of green, a quiet, structured wander. Along that way I met dear souls, uncommonly kind and gracious. And funny and wise and quick on their toes, sturdy, resilient, tenacious. This is my tribute to the best of the best, of the hikers I met and befriended. Whose tired feet will soon be at rest, their southbound quests nearly ended. So accept these few verses as the tip of a cap, my thanks for the friendship you've shown. May we hike yet again with a back country map, and in each others' company, roam. Tribute With curly black hair, Dirty Girls and pink socks, Cascadias and Dapper Dan wax. Hero brought style to the woods and our walks, and for leisure, kicked hacky sacks. He frequently stops to change footware, is brilliant and occasionally rants. But when SlimJim finally takes Springer, even harsh Nobo Baggins will dance. Mav is rock solid, he sleeps with no mattress, and hikes for a noble cause. When he 'slathers the baby' it causes distress, but his 'bazingas!' are met with guffaws. With kisses and hugs in her shelter-book entries, Birdie's as sweet as they come. She sang lots on trail, was stung by some bees, and hiked with a patch on her bum. She hosted thanksgiving for the hikers we met, and showed up with stitches and bruising. But Swish gets what she gets without getting upset, and sleeps rolled in a tarp when she's boozing. Herc is a guy you can't help but like, who took to the woods like a pro. He dove off a bridge and played chess on his hike, and smiled through the rain and the snow. In a confederate hat Hydro walks with no shirt, his Connecticut challenge completed. Mason-Dixon ain't just some old line in the dirt, but the place Rebel Yell is depleted. Her hugs are the best and go well with her smile, genuine, friendly and true. Hikers who walk with Toastface a mile, end up hoping its not one, but two. DirtyBird hikes fast and sleeps deeply, though one night he stirred with a groan. And spoke in his sleep to inform me, that the pebble is- surely- the stone. Picking blueberries on mountains throughout central Maine, and trek poles in Shenandoah. Ducky's purple shorts sure did entertain, with his trademark beard like Noah. With long stride and stick and remarkably chill, he's crossing the country again. By bike or on foot, through sheer force of will, StringBean has proven he can. Epilogue Hats off to my heros and idols, beloved companions and friends. Take care and God's speed in your travels, let's plan more as soon as it ends.
My next post will probably be mid-February, just before I push off for Pearisburg, Virginia. I’m including a few pictures, some older ones too that I hadn’t seen until recently. I hope you enjoy and I’m looking forward to wrapping up the journey with you!