I just got off of the phone with Mr. Bob. He is a delightful man who lives in Frankfort, KY not very far from our home in Lexington. He had, in his own words, “encountered” Christian on the trail recently on a short trip to do some section- hiking and meet up with a friend who is a thru-hiker like Christian.
I love the imagery that is conjured when one thinks of the word “encounter”. To experience my husband is not merely to meet him. He sort of pulls you into his world, without letting you lose the oxygen from your own universe. And, you go willingly into this space in order to catch a glimpse of something completely unique and beyond what you expected. It is like opening the wardrobe door and walking into Narnia while one foot firmly remains grounded in the Country House in the English Countryside. One does not simply “run into” Christian Torp. One does indeed encounter him.
A stately sounding gentlemen, Mr. Bob began to extol the virtues of my husband and the word that claimed the honor of repetition not twice, but three times during the short conversation was, “determination”. He talked about being “very impressed” with my husband and stated “I have no doubt he will accomplish what he has set out to do”.
Mr. Bob was calling just to let me know that Christian was in good health and spirits and, he himself having a wife that does not travel with him when he is off on his own nature excursions, displayed complete empathy for the wife my husband left behind as he embarked on this trip of a lifetime. It appears as if I have been given the honor of experiencing some of that “Trail Magic” my husband has been telling me about, for myself. A complete stranger who journeyed with my husband for a short time, made a point to call with the honorable intention of giving me peace of mind. The more I hear of this traveling band of strangers who somehow become family on the Appalachian Trail, the more I am impressed.
I have not been able to keep up with the blog as much as I have wanted to, of late. I’m working two jobs and I have a major event I have been planning for one of them that commences tomorrow. I am dedicated to keeping you all posted, but sometimes I will not be able to be as timely as my heart (or my good intentions) would like. As it stands right now, I have been up since 5:30 AM and I am finishing this blog near midnight. Many blogs die because the writers take long hiatuses and the readers become bored due to unpredictable scheduling. Thank you for sticking with us in these times of busyness for me. We truly appreciate each and every one of you. We do not take you for granted.
Franklin, N.C. Campsite, 3/28/12
Resupply runs can suck the life, or at least the momentum out of an AT hike. I met up with Smitter, sometime in the recent past. We had been hiking together towards Franklin all day when we came to a clearing where several other hikers were waiting for a shuttle ride into town. Neither one of us had reserved a room but, Mr. Ron Haven, purveyor of the Budget Inn and several other local establishments catering to the hiking crowd, offered us a ride anyway, even after I told him that I planned to make it back to camp tonight and was not planning on patronizing his establishments. It made no difference to him that he would not make money off of me. He offered Smitter and I a free ride anyway.
Arriving in Franklin, I said my goodbyes to Smitter, not expecting to see him again and headed off to find the Post Office. Once there, I forwarded my Bounce Box to Fontana Dam, North Carolina and sent a box of gear I did not need right now, back home to my wife. She will re-mail it when I do need it.
On my way to find some lunch, I linked back up with Smitter. He and I chose to lunch together and fixated on Cabin’s Country Buffet. It had opened just two weeks prior to our arrival, and was a real family establishment with the married couple running the show and the grandparents baking the desserts. Smitter and I ate more than our share of pot roast, ham, fried potatoes, and dessert. We need every calorie we can get, as we expend so much energy daily. On the trail, I met a woman who’s whole reason for hiking the AT is to lose weight and get healthy. She can already tell the difference in her body, and I can tell the difference in mine too.
After lunch, I retrieve my pack from Smitter’s room at the Budget Inn (he decided to get a room after all), and decide to run some errands. Mr. Ron offered me a shuttle ride to the grocery store, free of charge. Smitter and I parted ways. Maybe, we’ll meet back up on the trail. Maybe we won’t. But, he was a good companion nevertheless.
As always, it took me quite a bit of time to do all of my shopping and when I was finished I realized that I was confused about the directions back to the trail (11 miles away) that Ron had given me. It looked as if he had told me to hitchhike on a 4-lane divided highway, but that couldn’t have been right. An hour and 15 minutes later, after asking directions a time or two and checking the map, I arrived at the spot Mr. Ron had suggested.
I have got to take a brief interlude to thank my friend and fellow Anti-Mountain Top Removal Activist, Bryan for giving me my first bit of “Trail Magic” before I even stepped one big toe on the AT. He gave me all of his maps for the trail that he used when he made the 2, 200 mile trek, himself. They are VERY expensive and they came in very handy when I got lost today. They are so comprehensive that I cannot carry them all at once. Each section of the trail has a corresponding map. Thank you for your generosity, Bryan!
Anyway, I stuck out my thumb and waited about 10 minutes before Ms. Narelle Kirkland, a Section Hiker who completed her Appalachian Trail journey in 2007, having begun with Mt Katahdin in Maine (my eventual destination) in 1959, happened by. If you want to talk about dedication, Ms Kirkland spent 48 years hiking the AT one section at a time! She has my utmost respect. When she stopped to give me a ride she asked “Are you going where I think you’re going?”, with a sly smile. I piled into the cargo area of her Ford Taurus Wagon because the rest of her car was too packed for me to ride in it. She said, “My whole life’s in here”, as we started down the road. I wouldn’t have cared if I had ridden on the roof. Her generosity was all that mattered, not the condition of her car.
As we rode along, we spoke of the trail and my reasons for hiking. She then suggested that I go to the campsite I am at now as I write this, and no further. In her experience, maintaining this section of the trail is somewhat spotty. And, it is difficult to climb.
Hiking up to this campsite in the dusk without my headlight on, ironically illuminates something for me. Dusk is a cool, beautiful time to hike and I’d like to start doing it more, and if I can put those 3.3 miles in towards the next shelter, at least I will have made some more progress today. I won’t get those miles back I had to lose re-supplying today. Besides, I’ve heard other hikers say that you’ve got to switch it up as you go along. You’ve got to try night-hiking and all of that, so you don’t get tired of it. Tonight sounds like a perfect night to try it out. Besides, if I can night-hike I can convince myself that I don’t have to get up early and hike so much tomorrow because I will be covering some of tomorrow’s miles tonight. It’s a great idea in theory, but I know I would not have woken up early anyway. 3.3 miles ain’t much, just 7,000 or 8,000 steps back home on Lexington’s paved and level ground. I can be there in two hours or less, so why not? I see nothing wrong with the idea, so I will catch you later, dear readers. After all, it’s not like your mother ever told you not to night-hike up mountains in the dark, right? As if any mother would ever have a reason to tell her children such a thing!
Note to homeschool children following our blog: Always listen to your mother. She’s pretty smart.
Today’s donation total rose to $2,515. We still need $2,485. Thank you to those who have supported us. Please mail donations to: Christian Torp, P.O. Box 861, Lexington, Ky. 40588.