Day 20 – Life. Is. Good. Newfound Gap to Tri-Corner Knob Shelter
15.6 miles, 42,660 steps, 471 stories climbed
231.7 miles, 659,021 steps, 6495 stories climbed
Trail Magic Moments: 11
Back to the trail and I couldn’t be happier!!
I was worried this morning on how to get back to the trail. Being a Sunday, many things were closed (including my hotel. Not sure what happens if people want to stay there on a Sunday but no one was at the desk. (The guy told me just to shove the keys through the mail slot).
I was very fortunate however, after standing on the corner trying to hitch a ride back to the trailhead for about 2 minutes, a car pulled over with an AT ridge runner in it on his way to the same trailhead I was going.
His name was Rockfoot,so named for a kayaking trip where he fell from his kayak, got his foot stuck between some rocks and had to be rescued. Rockfoot was telling me about some of his hiking trips, mainly about the beauty of the John Muir Trail which I have heard a great deal about from fellow hikers and it is now at the top of my list for future thru-hikes (hopefully next hiking trip won’t be sans Maria). This guy also helped to build trails out in California. He helped build trails!!! How cool is that!?
He dropped me off at the trailhead and I was off. What a perfect day for hiking! Perfect temperature, the sun was out, but not overbearing, the trail was relatively flat and the views were absolutely incredible. My day went pretty much like this, beautiful view of the valley to the left and awesome forest to the right, than beautiful valley views on both left and right, then valley to the right and forest to the left, rinse and repeat. Yea, perfect.
Early in my hike, I came across the first shelter, where I stopped to take care of certain biological functions, and when I returned to the shelter to get my pack I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful doe not far from the shelter. She was startled by my presence at first but eventually realized I meant her no harm and she continued grazing while I took a few pictures. I was a Disney princess today.
It felt sooo good to be back on the trail. The simple meditation of walking each step coupled with the beautiful vistas allows the mind to wander to thoughts of such great depths. The smile on my face and the happiness that just reaches to the deepest recesses of my being as I return to the simplicity of the trail is overwhelming. I. Am. So. Happy.
Thoughts of my dislike of the rat-race of modern civilized life. How we constantly try to make more money to acquire bigger living quarters and then fill them with more useless junk. How we try to buy “better” vehicles and clothing because we think it will make us happier and seem more successful. How we waste hours of our day watching people we have practically anointed to the levels of gods on television shows and tell us how we will never be as beautiful or successful as them but if we buy the products they sell, we might just be a little closer.
Yet here, in the wilderness with nothing but the belongings on my back and living in a tent that might be 10sqft at most, I have found a deep and visceral happiness I hope everybody has or may one day experience. I have found a fellowship with new friends, fast forming, strong and ultimately extremely genuine that many will not experience in day to day life. There is none of the day to day bickering and complaining of mundane day to day he said, she said stuff. There are no backhanded compliments, backstabbings and begin the back rumors told at the water cooler. You meet someone for a day and you tell them things that would take you months to get to with others and then you move on, not knowing if you will see them again but always hoping you will and when you do, you great each other like old friends who have not seen each other forever but have also somehow never missed a beat.
This is the life of a thru-hiker. It is an amazing thing to be a part of and it really sheds a light on the trivial pursuits we are conditioned to chase believing that if we reach the next rung on that ladder, oh! How happy we might be!
If I were to give one piece of advice to my younger self, it would simply be do what you desire as long as it brings no harm upon others. We were meant for more than this. More than cars and houses and apartments and clothes. We were meant for greatness, and that greatness doesn’t include expensive, time-consuming crap. We are supposed to own the things we have. They’re not supposed to own us.
At the end of my hike, as all these thoughts swirled in my head I came to my final shelter for the day and ran into Roadside. We had a great discussion about religion for about an hour or so before it was time to eat.
I pulled out the pound or so of the delicious black bean fudge brownies Maria sent to me and pound and a half of s’mores stuff and he laughed. Then we ate half the brownies. Kudos to Maria from both of us for they are REALLY good (Seriously though, how did I manage to convince a super intelligent, adventurous, and beautiful person who also can also cook like this to go through life with me?).
Now, a brief example of hiker gourmet food and how disgusting creative it can be.
Roadside, in the search for the almighty calorie bomb, made a concoction consisting of summer sausage, honey, peanut butter and some of Maria’s brownies and put that in a wrap for second dinner (because one dinner is not enough for a thru-hiker). He seemed to enjoy it. Hey, more power to him!
But now, hiker midnight (aka 9:00PM) approaches and we are all lying in our sleeping bags, listening to the rain lightly fall and sing us its gentle lullaby as we rest up for tomorrow’s hike.
We are Maria and Jason. Two crazy 30 somethings from New York City who decided to trade in our metro cards for a young-at-heart cargo van. Retired from being a phone company's service vehicle, Houdini, is has transformed into our home on wheels and is taking us all the way to the southern most tip of South America.
Follow along on our adventures.
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