It's been a full week since Independence Day, and I'm still thinking back to what a great day that was. So far the one person I've been pretty consistently hiking with is my good friend, Lemmy. Lemmy is from Israel, was a medic in the army for three years and is now doing what every smart young person should do before focusing on education or a career, he's traveling the world for a year. He draws cartoons, loves Dungeons and Dragons and is one of those rare people so clever that he can be funny in his second language. He also is quite good at getting rides to town.
Before I crossed the longest footbridge on the AT, I debated whether or not to stop and pee. I'm glad I didn't, because if I had crossed that bridge one second later I would not have seen Lemmy waving from the passenger side of that red pickup. "Green Giant! Run! You can make it, hurry!"
I did just that, and when I arrived a voice from the driver's side ordered me to "Hop on in the back there, just throw your pack in the canoe." A single canvas strap, worn to threads in places, barely held the boat in place. Surely the additional weight of my pack would cause it and all of my belongings to go sailing down the road at some point, nevertheless I obeyed. I wedged myself between the wheel well and the canoe, grabbed on to anything and held on. Tires spun, gravel sprayed and we bounced out onto the winding blacktop.
I removed my hat and sat on it as the wind swirled around me. The world raced away in reverse. I heard a knock on the window at the back of the cab. I could see one meaty forearm with a thumbs-up held just so to perfectly convey, "Everything alright back there?" I responded in kind with my own thumb and the ride continued.
Moments later there was another knock on the window and this time the glass slid open, the same big hairy arm now handing me the remains of a Bud Light. I happily grabbed the bottle and shouted my thanks over the wind in the form of a loud, "YEAH!"
The glass slid shut and I heard, "Man, he's so excited!" and other muffled yukking from the cab. The truck swayed left and right as we climbed higher, center lines were merely a suggestion. As the trees rushed by the sun strobed on my face. I tightened my grip on the canoe, threw back my head and downed the last of the beer in two long gulps. I thought, "Happy birthday, America!" as a piece of garbage flew out of the truck.
We arrived in Glasgow, VA that afternoon and set up camp at the town-provided "Hiker Pavilion." I use quotes because it's more of a shelter than a pavilion, but I suppose they had to call it that to get the vote to pass. Either way, it's very nice. The pavilion is on town land and has electricity and running water, including a shower. There's plenty of tent space, and it's free! As if that's not enough, there's a huge stack of firewood from the trees they cleared to build the pavilion.
Lemmy and I, along with a few others, set up camp there and ate ice cream at the baseball field while watching fireworks and fireflies.
So here it is a week later, and between then and now I've done a lot of walking and have seen a good many things. I'll finish with a few photos, and then I have to get back to hiking. This is not a Zero.