Gary Serra, 2 1/5 full trail section hiker and pro AT shuttle driver, left me at the trailhead with directions to say hello to Alma -- or was it Mary? -- when she delivered my resupply package.
Alma fortunately has a good sense of humor, saying that Gary was a cute little boy ... culturally, the Trail may not have fulfilled its originator's vision of a rural paradise, but it is a unique ribbon of devoted protectors struggling against the advancing armies of yellow bulldozers, cell phone towers, and disposable water bottles. Good people, friendly as long as you give them room and play by the rules.
You know, son, the ones your papa taught you.
A correction also to my tale of going in circles in the forest. "Mount Horeb" is a local affectation of a church nestled up against Mount F, which in turn rests on the shoulders of Bald Knob. Which is not bald. Which explains everything.
Short hike to Brown Mountain Creek yesterday -- location of a freed slave farming community until they sold the land to the Forest Service in the 1920's.
Late arrivals -- Píkachu and Mouse, a "slackpacking" couple. He walks the trail carrying water and a lunch, dressed minimally (we're talking poly briefs here, and trail running shoes ... and Píkachu strapped onto the cycling pack he uses). She packs up drives to a parking lot near his next stopping point, and hikes in supplies, tent ans so forth.
Doesn't scan for me, but as the Conservancy says, "everyone hikes their own hike." If a person walks over 2000 miles "with the intent of completing the entire Appalachian Trail", they get a certificate.
Píkachu carries a staff worthy of a Native American shaman -- "my never give up flag", he say -- seven foot debarked and polished, knots and all, topped by a collection of streamers, bird feathers, and other artifacts, including a leg from a pair of convertible pants.
Tomorrow, I want to do ten miles and a thousand feet in five hours before noon to beat the heat. Right, revellie at 0430.