One Month Solo on the Appalachian Trail
At 19 days, with my trail legs firmly beneath me, I begin to truly enjoy the hike. Every shrub seems more lush, every tree more fresh, and every view more wondrous. I pause at each overlook to admire the scenery.
After 16 miles, I walk almost normally, with almost no hobbling, into camp. The setting sun lingers on the roof of Maupin Fields Shelter, illuminating a handful of hikers nearby. Phlatlander and Shweasle sit at the picnic table, playing cards. Woody stands in the shelter, unpacking his sleeping bag. Farther up a hill, a group of car campers chop firewood with machetes to feed a raging bonfire.
I slide in next to Phlatlander and Shweasle to cook dinner. A northbound section hiker introduces himself as Bob from Chicago. He pulls out a handful of Snickers bars and scatters them across the table for all to share. Two more northbound hikers, Torch and Tinder, roll in after dusk. Torch produces a gigantic, 1-foot tall camp stove: his namesake.
That night, I listen to the spirited discussion around the picnic table, laughing at the difficulty of hanging bear bags on an abnormally tall bear pole, and enjoying the company of strangers around a campfire.