Monday, May 15, 2017

A Red Kerchief

Up at 5:30 again today, trying to beat the heat. Tomorrow, I'll try 4:30.

I was able to cross two wide meadows with great views before mid day temperatures set in, but it was already uncomfortable at 8.  Two ridge climbs later, five hiking hours after I left camp, I was done. 1:30 pm, Knot Maul shelter, full stop.

Knot Maul Stone Shelter
At day's end, we all gathered to watch the sunset.

Along the way to Knob Maul today, I crossed paths with a surprising number of men and women of my age, all hurrying north early both to beat the heat and the increasing number of college age groups moving up the trail. I had hoped that the attraction of Damascus Trail Days would hold back the tide a little longer.

While we were sharing the same rivulet of water to feed our purifiers, one of them told me he would be "aquablazing" around Shenandoah National Park by paddling down the Shenandoah River. His plan is to go to Walmart, buy a kayak, paddle north, and sell it in Harpers Ferry. Hmmm -- but, hike your own hike (HYOH in trailspeak).

There's considerable debate, actually, about the lassiez-faire HYOH attitude. When is it appropriate (if ever) to get in another hiker's face and counsel the person about actions or attitudes that are either (a) highly likely to create unnecessary and often unsuccessful work for emergency rescue teams or (b) interfering with other hikers' ability to enjoy their hike? One of those recurrent debates like the merits of tent, hammock, or cowboy camping, certain to generate a lot of talk without reaching consensus.

All still agree that most people are at their best here on the trail. One northbounder paused as we passed each other today to cheerfully exclaim that everyone who was out on the trail today should be having a good day! Since we were under tree cover and streamside at the time, I replied in the same vein, saying that anyone who was not out on the trail today, should be!

Well ... mileage and mileages may vary.

A couple of NOBO thru hikers of my age took several minutes to chat about their northbound plans and why they chose to spend this year adventuring with one or two thousand unfettered collegians. The husband asked me to keep an eye out for a prized red kerchief, which she protested vigorously -- hardly something to ask someone they just met to do!

I said that I would keep an eye out and would contact them through their blog site if I was able to retrieve it. His trail name is Sparks and hers is Bushy. No, I did not ask, but they looked at each other and smiled one of those secret smiles that some longtime married folks do....

The bright red and black cotton kerchief was sitting trailside just a few miles further on, so I picked it up,  and I will contact them for instructions on its return. It takes a 2189 mile long village.

The village was somewhat crowded this evening, so I quietly let my neighbors know that I would be striking camp at 4.

The advance wave of NOBOs racing to stay ahead of the bubble retired at 9, leaving only the soft cooing of my neighbors as they arranged themselves for sleep.

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