There’s something about long distance hikers that makes people feel generous. ‘Trail Magic’ it’s called and usually happens in the form of free food. Someone will wait at a trail head for hikers to come along and offer them snacks, drinks, sometimes complete meals. For a hiker who has been living on a sparse diet of freeze dried food and granola the unexpected gift feels like magic.
Today that magic was taken to the next level.
The conditions today went from fair to poor to miserable in pretty short order. We started around 9:00 with a light sprinkle from the Elkwallow trailhead but it soon picked up to a steady rain. Then the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. The fog rolled in and visibility dropped to 100′. It was wet, cold and miserable and as we reached the top of the mountains the view was non-existent. But we trudged on, resigned to a bit of suffering.
For a couple days now Tortuga has been having knee problems. Bad enough that it could interupt his hike. When the weather is good aches and pains seem less achey, less painful. But when the weather is bad they just feel worse. It was shaping up to be a bad day for the intrepid Tortuga.
There are some common adages associated with the AT. One that came to mind today is ‘No Rain, No Maine’ meaning that if you don’t hike in the rain you won’t make it to the end if the trail. Another is ‘The Trail Provides’. This refers to those occasions when a hiker needs a thing, whether he knows he needs it or not, and it appears magically before him: maybe it’s free food, or a shelter, or even clothing that someone else doesn’t need. Today that magic took the form of a knee brace. Sitting next to the road, in the woods. A knee brace!?!? Maybe it fell from someone’s car or pack? I don’t know how a knee brace comes to be in a random place but there it was.
Tortuga picked it up and put it on and like magic his knee quit hurting. What are the odds?
With the new knee brace we were well ahead of schedule. So we sat on the curb at Compton Gap to wait for our ride.
Onward and northward,
Miles hiked today: 14
AT miles completed: 64
AT miles to go: 2126