Chewy was at the farmhouse door this morning, making dismayed noises and trying to get in. Maple, however, was working with Neville and others on another amazing breakfast.
As we were reaching the "Wow, there's more! But ... well, maybe another small bit" stage, Neville took a few minutes to advise the party kids on Trail Manners. All of us listened.
* The hiking community is evolving as it has grown in the past few years, and those who support it are glad to welcome many of the newcomers. The hikers who arrive early in the year still seem to share our communal values, and we enjoy their company. As the numbers increase, though, we have to deal with some who are just looking for the next high, the next hit, the next great hostel, the next trail magic -- but they are missing the personal growth that comes from solitude in the woods and disturbing the purpose of the community that this hostel exists to support.
* Where we all should be learning to embrace care for common spaces like the shelters we share with others, some choose to light up tokes or drink to loosen our inhibitions and to dull our awareness of our companions under the roofs we share. The child who has never smelled weed or whiskey, the person who has come to the trail to escape those burdens ... their needs are ignored as we feed ourselves and rush on to collect all the imperfect highs that we can in the shortest time.
* Providing the best hostels, the best shelters, the best trail towns, should not be the purpose of the support that we provide. What we are all looking for in all these months on the trail should be out there in the woods for you, not in a race to eat the best meals, have the best party nights, do the most brew-thrus.
* Instead of searching for the best hostel, the best cup of coffee -- no offense meant, 12 Mile, glad you have enjoyed so many cups of ours -- but we should seek instead for perfect solitude and for a respectful and supportive attitude toward our community.
By promising myself to return next month when the rhodendrons are blooming on the trail from Woods Hole to Pearisburg, I managed to drag myself away and head down the road toward the Mount Rogers area.
Shenandoah storm forecasts are still confounding my plans, though! Today was supposed to be wet -- nope, clear and cool. Tomorrow, forecast wet with a half marathon event filling up all the parking in the area. Sunday to Tuesday, chilly and windy but reasonably clear ... late Tuesday through Sunday, another storm system.
Total new AT miles to date for this trip: 11. Nevertheless, it has been the most enjoyable one so far!
A note regarding the date for those who may not hve been taught -- while widely and boisterously celebrated, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Indepence Day. Mexico's ten year struggle against Spain is celebrated on September 16, the day of the Cry of Dolores (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cry_of_Dolores). It's both a tragic and a stirring tale, and the Cry is still reenacted every year.