As we have the past few years, we met some great, unique, "colorful" and adventurous people this year. We did not form any long lasting tramiles this year probably due to the lower number of thru hikers/LASHERS but still met many people with most having a great story to tell on why they are hiking the AT. The following are a few of those fellow AT hikers we met:
Stopped at the first shelter on day 1to camel up with water and met some section hikers out for 2 weeks. Take note of the one holding what looks like a vintage Viking or Scotish weapon from yester year. His trail name is "Shamahawk". Never asked what it meant because we didn't want him to throw it at us! Actually they were friendly...but I also wonder why he would hike with this 10 lb. "thing" for 2 weeks??
This is "Helo"; a LASHER that is on the trail from May to October, where ever that will take him. We hiked with him for a couple of days. He is a retired Helicopter pilot (hence his trail name) from the Oil and Gas Industry. He use to shuttle crews to the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. He had some harrowing stories about the bad weather he had to fly in!
This is "Smiles" (a nurse) and his family from Johnson City TN. Out for a weekend hiking/canoeing.... but Smiles thru hiked the AT in early 2000's, long before all the fancy equipment we use today. Another special thing about this family is that they gave us some sorely needed water!....which continues to be scarce. And then they left another gallon for other hikers!......one of many trail angels that we encountered and were so appreciative of. And look how color coordinated they were :)
"Eternal". From Colorado...in fact...he walked from Colorado to Springer at the start of the AT and is now thru hiking it. In fact, his goal once finished with the AT is to walk back to Colorado then do the PCT and CDT. His vision is to spend the next 2 1/2 years backpacking around the U.S. - 15,000 miles ( and do a documentary on it). Now that is some serious walking!!
A celebrity was in our midst and we didn't even know it at the time. This is the famous and world AT record holder Warren Dole. We came across him at a random gravel road crossing just sitting there. He was actually waiting for "Mercury", a lady trying to thru hike the AT in a record 41 days. Mr. Dole was supporting her along the whole trail....and he offered us some trail magic (chocolate cookies!). His record? hiking the entire AT 18 times, setting a record at the time of 66 days in 1973. What a legend.
This is "Fungi". Use your only judgement on how he got his trail name...but i am thinking it had to do with "magic mushroom"? His back story is rather unique. Had an antique business and then every thing got stolen...at least that is what he claims. But who am i to dispute that. Says he goes out on the AT at least 6 months each year. He had been staying at this shelter for some days. But he really was a "Fun Guy":)
This is "Pink Crocodile". A teacher (with currently a lot of time on her hands) and an aspiring thru hiker. She came in late to the shelter that we were staying at in the middle of a giant downpour. We saw "Pink Croc' a couple of times this week. Why this trail name? Her camps shoes were pink crocs :)... and as you can see was also the color of the dry bag she used. She was having a great time/adventure on the AT and we hope she makes it to Mount Katahdin!
This is "Motor", a 2009 Thru Hiker....and now a Trail Maintainer. Trail Maintainers are truly unsung heros on the AT (or any other hiking trail). This is really hard work and very much manual labor where they work days on end to make it that much easier for us hikers to hike. Thank you "Motor!....but on first glance, doesn't it look like Motor is carrying an AR-15??
Met these ladies who called themselves the "Dixie Chicks" near our start of hiking close to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Today they were just out for a day hike but they are seasoned hikers and in fact 2 of them have hiked most all of the AT in Virginia, PLUS, 2 of them are trail maintainers and do a GREAT job in keeping it groomed on their section. MacGyver and I can attest to that...it was very clean hiking! Note: Shout out to my Spartans.......the husband of the lady in pink is a1963 MSU grad. GO GREEN!
This is "Low Branch". A 2020 Thru hiker. that was the 10th person to finish this year. He was on the trail in February before the ATC asked the hikers to leave the trail due to the COVID but Low Branch took a chance and stayed out hiking....and was successful! In this picture he was being a "trail angel" for Scooby and Boogie waiting fror them with some Trail Magic food and water.
This is "Everview", a 2019 thru hiker that just can't get enough of the AT. He is out again this year doing some sections. But the really amazing stories and typical of the long distance hiking community taking care of each other is this story. 2 days prior MacGyver and i were hiking in a rain storm and somehow I lost my headband. And it so happened that we met "Everview" at a shelter that night and i asked him if by chance if he happened to see it. Since he was going SOBO and i was going NOBO, he had not. Well.......apparently the next day he did indeed fine it along the trail and he remembered us telling him we were staying at Staminals the next day. And since he was taking a day off waiting for his girlfriend he decided to drive 30 miles to Stanimals to bring me my headband. Amazing!
This is John the "Brewmeister" from New Hampshire on a LASH (3 weeks on the AT). Hiked with him a couple of days. We will definitely be reaching out to him when we are in his area to sample the local micro brew!....and the orange container next ot him? It was his bear container to keep the bears from stealing his food. I am thinking he either had A LOT of food or brought some of the micro beers that he has created!
"Slim Jim" the ridge runner, who had previously thru hiked the AT. He was taking a couple of zeros due to the potential of Hurricane Laura coming our way (MacGyver and I had no idea it was headed our way). What does a Ridge Runner do? Well, they educate hikers on leave no trace ethics and help hikers by telling them about the weather, water sources, and trail conditions. They also help in maintaining the trail by cutting back vegetation, sawing smaller blowdowns, and picking up litter. Another unsung hero on the trail!
The guy on the left is "Sundown" from State College, PA. He puts a whole new spin on being a thru hiker. He started in Key West, Florida hiking the Florida trail that he then connected to the Appalachian Trail and will continue beyond Mt. Katahdin in Maine to finish the AT somewhere in Canada! And the lady on the right is "Guardian" who had been hiking with "Sundown" for a while.
This is a father (Chris) and son (Jarrad) duo we met at the Loft Mtn. campground in the Shenandoah National Park. They were out for one last camping trip before Jarrad went back to college (Virginia Tech). And these guys were also trail angels. As MacGyver and I entered the back of the campground near the AT, we unfortunately found out that (after hiking over 17 miles that day) we had to go to the front entrance to register for a campsite...which was 3 miles away. Thankfully we happen to come across Chris (who told us about the registration) and he graciously drove us to the front entrance AND waited for us to get a site and drove us back. What a great gesture and a lot of help!
Do you ever get the feeling you are being "Shadowed"? Well.....we did on our hike....or was it just our "Trail Guardian Angels" watching over us.....?
Sometimes you are impacted by "Trail Angels" you never meet.....but are very grateful for their help in time of need.
Some people on the trail did not really want there picture taken so we certainly respected that but they still, however, welcomed the opportunity to talk to us and provide their back story:
"Homeless Billy" (that is actually the name MacGyver and i gave him). He had been on the AT for some months with no real goal in mind and...well....looked a bit homeless but he was quite a friendly guy and we wished him luck.
"Darby" (not a trail name). He is an active career military person (10 years in the marines and 20 years in the Airforce (thank you Darby for your service!)...and contemplating retiring to spend time with his family. His current MOS was political military advisor stationed in Korea...and probably the reason he didn't want his picture taken! An added benefit to talking to Darby was that he gave us some key pointers on survival in the wilderness! Did you know that you can survive more than 3 days without water? ....we never tested that!!
"Thor" Met him at 4 Pines Hostel. Was/is on a thru hike but the heat and humidity (and lack of water) in Virginia in July/August got to him so he flip-flopped to Maine and will try to finish his hike SOBO.
Trail Angels Homer and Theresa in Daleville, VA (both in their late 70's). A wonderful couple that "unoffically" shuttle hikers. Was trying to get a shuttle/ride from the trail head to the hotel we were planning to stay at in Daleville and had no success what so ever. Even tried to hitchhike. Then my wife Sandy happen to find some one who new someone who knew someone that could help. At first it sounded a bit questionable. That was the furtherest from the truth. They were the real deal! Homer and Roberta shuttle hikers locally all over in Daleville and Troutville because they love the AT and love the hiking community......and they do it all for free. PLUS they are trail maintainers on the sections near Daleville. Rest assured that MacGyver and I gave them a good "unoffically" tip for their help.
Met Ian (not a trail name) at Stanimals Hostel. He is an ex-marine LASHER that is blowing thru 20-30 mile days. his "day job"...... security contractor in Afghanistan.
27.09 | 17:20
Hi Possum! MacGyver and I finished up on Sept.7th with 351 miles in this year. False alarm on MacGyver taking ill. He was dehydrated but recovered in about 2 days. Was great to meet you this year!
27.09 | 17:16
Hey Pinnacle! Great to meet and hike with you also! And great advice on the next section we did. Thanks!
06.09 | 16:10
Great meeting you and your Brother at Eagles nest.
06.09 | 16:07
It was great meeting you and brother at Eagles nest