Since our servants were off duty this day, I took several weeks’ worth of laundry to the laundromat in Manchester, VT. While there, I struck up a conversation with some obvious hikers (I won’t say how I knew they were hikers – no actually, they had already showered). Yes, they were hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT), and yes they had been on their march since – you guessed it – March. They had dropped off the trail for a “zero day” in order to resupply, in one case buy new shoes (literally falling apart), do laundry and recharge a bit.
In the course of discussion, I mentioned we were camping in an RV up the road a few miles and one of them (Yukon – yes, everyone had “trail” names) asked what kind. I told them we had an Airstream, and he told me that shortly before this trip he had sold his possessions and had bought an ’85 Airstream Excella to fix up and live in! Well, the bond could never be broken now!
With laundry chores completed and in final salute to my new friends, I offered them a ride back to the trail if and when they were ready later in the day (we were camped maybe 20 minutes away). They said yes, they might take me up on that offer since the trailhead was about 5 miles away. I wasn’t sure if they would call or not, but sure enough later in the day I got the call.
Into town I go, but by the time they had called and the time I got into town, it seemed late to try to get back onto the trail and hike to a place to camp for the night. So I offered them a chance to stay at our campsite for the night and would take them to the trailhead in the morning. Long story short, off we go back to our campsite to surprise Karen (honey, look who followed me home!).
Now these kids couldn’t have been nicer. Yukon insisted we stop at a liquor store so he could buy us beer for the effort, and to enjoy sitting around a campfire. And he treated us to some Vermont maple syrup. Just a nice guy.
I mentioned trail names, and it is true – I don’t know their real names. There was Yukon from TN (fixing up his Airstream), Yard Sale from CA (to return to his dad’s business), Beefcake from WY (heading toward medical school next spring), and Shadow Fox from VA (already finished her residency in physical therapy).
I already had a fire going from before I left to pick them up, and with beers and conversation flowing we settled down to a meal Karen cobbled together from food we had (when you are camping you don’t plan for four additional and hungry guests).
Hydrated with a special stash of Trillium Mettle Double IPA’s, and fed with grilled gourmet sausages, artisan bread with olive oil, bacon, date and gorgonzola tortellinis, lobster ravioli’s with white sauce, fresh salad from a farmer’s market – this was definitely not your freeze-dried meal in a pouch. And this was after they had stopped at McDonald’s before I picked them up! There may have been a bit of taste bud and gastrointestinal overload. Ah well.
The next morning, after feeding this hungry lot, and after Karen had baked them cookies, we headed for the trailhead to set them back on their way towards Mt. Katahdin and the ultimate finish of their epic six-month, 2,000+ mile journey.
We are extraordinarily proud of our two kids. And if by some fluke of time and space you are reading this arcane blog and happen to know or be related to any one of these four young folks you should be extraordinarily proud of them and their efforts. In spite of all the madness in this world, knowing what our own kids are doing, and meeting these young people has given me a renewed and positive outlook on our future.
Good wins over evil.