One Month Solo on the Appalachian Trail
The black dog herds me to the bathhouse when I step outside in the morning. I scratch behind its ears absentmindedly. A slight drizzle falls as we walk over to the camp store. Closed.
"Is she not in?" a pink-jacketed woman asks from the main road. Pulling her dog behind her, she walks up behind us.
"It's closed," we say.
"Here's what ya gotta do. Go knock at that house over there. Susan'll come open it up for ya."
Feeling slightly self conscious, we walk follow her directions and knock awkwardly at the door. After a few long moments, we hear Susan shuffle to the door. She unlocks the camp store to let us in. Each of us scan the menu for breakfast and order hot food. I take my time to enjoy the egg-onion-tomato-and-cheese sandwich: one of the best meals I've had on the trail so far. As we eat, a radio broadcasts news of wildfires forcing hikers to evacuate in Shenandoah. We missed the blazes by days.
"Y'all started in Harper's Ferry? You're trained for the wilderness. That's good - ya never know when the Western world's gonna go to hell and we'll all have to live off the land."
By the time Susan drops us off at the trailhead, a steady rain falls. By early afternoon, thunderstorms roll in. The trail becomes a river of mud that soaks through my shoes.
We need the rain for the wildfires, if nothing else, I think, my muddy shoes squelching with every step.