Bubba was late for our rendezvous at the visitor center, as it turned out, but not excessively so. As we headed north, he told me that his schedule for the day had filled up as the NOBO party bubble swept in to town; when he repeated the comment again, I got the message and thanked him profusely for fitting me into his schedule at the last minute. He nodded, said he was always glad to help, and had I heard about the swindler who eluded capture by staying on the AT for six months? Seems the gent hired Bubba for a dozen rides or so, always paid with a crisp $100 bill or two. Feds caught up with him eventually.
He also said that the number of women on the Trail seemed much higher this year, and recounted a couple of stories of male stalkers he had helped to thwart. We solemnly agreed that the Trail is not a good place for meeting up. Fellows who try risk being marked stalkers or worse. Better they should do a mirror check and figure out what the problem is off the trail first. Less pressure all around.
I waved goodbye to Bubba and stepped back on to the Trail at a footbridge spanning a rushing creek. More than enough water everywhere, much stronger flow than up north at this time last year.
Several NOBO hikers passed by, some pausing for conversation. One said he was doing a longer version of the Trail thru hike that starts in Key West at one minute past New Years Eve, and finishes in Canada. Really cool ... uh. No.
Three hours later on a near-perfect hiking afternoon, I arrived at Jenkins Shelter. It was already filling up ... no problem, I pitched my tent, checked the water supply (good), found a perfect tree and hung my bear bag.
Eight days of walking ahead, which could be the last long stretch of new Appalachian Trail for me in Virginia.