The best part of the hike, for me, was some of the people I got to spend time with. Some I already knew. Some I met along the way. The experience wouldn't have been the same without them. Here are some quick snippets about some of them. (How do you spell snippets?)...
Pokey Hontas was my girlfriend. She had one night, and 6 miles, of hiking experience when she started this trip. She became a very good hiker. She overcame some fears and phobias that she had carried for most of her life. She had a great time, and hated to leave the Trail. But, being together 24 hours a day, for 3 months and 1200 miles was adding a tremendous amount of stress to our relationship. When she left the Trail in Front Royal, VA, it was definitely for the best at the time. Yada yada yada.
Stoat is my longtime friend, landscape mentor and hiking partner. He and I went through the absolute worst time of our lives together a few years ago. I am closer to him than any other person. I love him dearly and hate to think where I'd be without him. He joined me in Gorham, NH with intentions of continuing to Springer. His third day on the Trail had him climbing the Presidentials. This is not recommended. He hiked for 900 miles (also to Front Royal). He was having a good deal of trouble with his feet, and I think was a little homesick. His sister lives in the DC area, so he went to her house when we got close. He picked me and my new hiking partners up a few weeks later and took the four of us to his sister's house for Thanksgiving Dinner. It was wonderful. (Many many thanks to all of his family for making us feel like family.)
The first time we saw Patch was at Shaw's Boarding House in Monson, ME. His second, and last, night there was the first of two nights for Pokey and me. We caught him again in Stratton, ME where we had dinner together at the White Wolf. I could tell right away that I liked him. The more I was around him, the more I respected him. His trailname came from the fact that he had lost an eye to a cancer, and he wore a patch. He has been dealt a less than desirable hand, as his body is riddled with various forms of cancer. (Von Hippel Landau Syndrome) We hiked together until late September (Lee, MA) where he left the Trail long enough to become a married man. He summited Springer about 3 weeks after I did. Hats off to you, Patch. And congratulations to you and Paz. (I called him Satchel, for some reason)
The Boy of Soy, as I liked to call him. Soyboy was a 20ish kid from the Philly area. He is a student at Brown University (Because he couldn't get into a real school, we would tease). He was a lot of fun to be around. He had a knack of just showing up out of no where. We hiked together from mid-Maine to mid-Massachusetts. The first time I saw him he was in the back of a truck in Monson. He got out and started walking the same direction from which he came. I said "Why didn't you just have him drop you off back there?" and he said "I told him I was going to the Pie Lady's. I guess he wanted me to go to the Post Office." The next time I saw him was 8 days later. I was pumping water from a stream and he just 'appeared'. "I have mail for you" he says. I didn't even recognize him. The post mistress at Caratunk had given him a card of mine, knowing I had already passed.
Cake, Sneaks, KK...anything but Ke Kehaawe. Mike is a very good friend of mine from Colorado. He joined us near Mt. Moosilauke, in NH. He hiked with us for a little over three weeks and to the middle of New York. It was great seeing him again and I had a blast hiking with him. HE CARRIES SPICES, FOR CHRISSAKE. (He's gettin' married on 4/24/04 in Albuquerque, NM. I get to wear a tux!!!)
After Mike left the group, it was Stoat, Pokey and me (Felix). In the middle of PA we started hiking with...
Machu Picchu and Huayna
Though it didn't last very long, we had a blast hiking with this couple. They were French Canadians from Quebec. We liked them anyway. Their journey was unlike any other hiker's. They started on Katahdin with intentions of hiking all the way to Peru, South America and back. 5 years worth. They are currently back in Quebec handling some legal matters, but should be on the Trail again soon. We called him "The Great Machu Picchu".
After Pokey and Stoat left, I assumed I would be hiking alone. The first shelter I stayed in was full of southbounders. Machu Picchu and Huayna had caught up and I was glad to be hiking with them again. There were more hikers in the fray...
I met GM at a trailhead as I was getting dropped off from a ride to town. I was surprised to find that he was a southbounder. I didn't know there were anymore behind me. As it turned out, GM was doing what is known as a yo-yo. He had hiked from Springer to Katahdin, and was hiking back. He is 20ish as well and is from Providence, RI. I liked hiking with him because he made me hike more miles and after dark. We hiked together, on and off, for the next 5 weeks.
I met Sundown briefly one morning in PA. I didn't see him for a week or two. He was with me my second night without Stoat and Pokey. He is 26 and from upstate PA. His trailname happened because he rarely got to a shelter before sundown. We had fun picking on him because of the weight he carried, and the weight his mom sent him in maildrops. I hiked with him from Shenandoah NP to south of Damascus. I believe he finished a week behind me.
Lucky Luke and Calamity Jane
Sundown and I met LL and CJ in Central Virginia. They were in Thunder Hill Shelter when we rolled in well after dark. I had spent the night with them way back in Vermont (their first night on the Trail). They did some blue and yellow blazing around PA. I didn't think I'd ever see them again and had actually forgotten who they were. We hiked together for the next month or so. The four of us were taken to Stoat's sister's house for Thanksgiving. A great time was had by all. They are currently in their homeland of Germany. (I'm in love with Jane's sister Kerstin!!!)
Windbraker and Q.P. (Quarter Pounder)
I met these two guys the second from the last night (Woods Hole Shelter).
It was bitter cold the whole time I was with them. (Lows below 5, highs
around 20) I had followed them for 5 months and they had never heard of
me. I was glad to have someone to hike with those last few days. And really
glad to have someone to summit Springer with. It wouldn't have been the
same to kiss that plaque without someone there who had been through what
I had been through. The picture wouldn't have been as good, either. (Thanks,
There were lots of other people that I met along the way. Some of the hikers I met, but didn't hike with, were: Barge Dog, Roadkill (Roadhazard), Red B, Abandoner, Hansen (Linley, Spencer and Matt), Tennessee Tom and Jukebox, The Texas family (Roy and his wife and their son) and Fringedweller. Some of the northbounders I remember are: Twilight, Twilight, Twilight, Slyman, Choovers, JipC, Chase, Baltimore Jack, Ol' Crawdad, Kevin, Model T, Earl Shaffer, The Family, The Professor and Peace Pipe, Pilot, Hooper and many many more. Did I mention Twilight? I also met Beorn twice, though neither time was on the Trail. Go figure.
Some of the Trail Angels we met (and PLEASE don't worry if I forget
to mention you. I forget a lot.) The list cannot start without mentioning
Pittsburgh and Kahley. The two of them, and Tom Ruane, got me from Spencer,
IN to Millinocket, ME in a very enjoyable 3 day trip. Thank you very much
to each of them. Then there was Ilene and Paul Trainer (Pine Ellis B&B),
the girl in Manchester Center that I can't remember the name of, Cosmo
Catalano and his family, (back in PA) Kahley, Pittsburgh and Navigator,
the Landis Family (one of our favorite nights), Ginny Owen and that guy
she lives with, Jody Carbone, the green-haired Raven, Amy "My" Friends and
her chocolate cake, Skyline, Stacy and
the wonderful Wanda, The Hogg and Horton Families, Southpaw (look for him
in Catawba, VA. If you can, give him money. He buys pop.), Mark and Janet
Holmes (they're Hoosiers), The Redhead, The Peoples (Kincorra), Alice 'Highlander'
Kauzlaozlarichskivichorich, MT. MOMA'S, Joyce and George Crankin, and last
but not least...Pittsburgh, who followed me around the last 10 days and
gave me and my new hiking buddies rides home from Springer. I enjoyed having
all of you be part of my experience. (Especially that girl from Manchester
Center that I can't remember the name of)
Thank you all!!! I can't imagine the thing being what it was without
you. Those of you that I hiked with have a special place in my heart. (Right
next to the left ventricle)
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