Degrees of separation

Mile 745.1—Bush camp [15.4 miles]
Thursday, May 16

Yesterday afternoon with my friend Doug was great. He shuttled me around, and we had dinner at an unexpectedly good diner in Daleville. Thanks so much for the trail angeling, Doug! I can’t wait to hear about your next section!

The trail was beautiful today: pristine pastures of waist-high grass (where there were cows in ‘13!), then green forest of oak and rhododendron, with a lot of fierce up and down. The afternoon was hot and rocky, and now the trail is tracking the Blue Ridge Parkway. I can hear the cars below from my hidden, mossy corner.

Things should be quiet for the next three days. It’s Trail Days down in Damascus, and thousands of revelers from all parts of the trail are now making their way to the party. As somebody said, only the old farts will be left hiking. 😁

Everybody in the bubble is separated by about two degrees. Did I tell you I finally met True? True was a hiker I’d been orbiting since Fontana. I never met him, but I kept almost meeting him. People would rush into a room and say, Was True here? And I’d be like, I don’t know True. Then somebody told me there were two Trues. Just a few days ago I met one of the Trues, who told me the whole story about how he was waiting in line to pick up a package at the post office, and there was some confusion about his name, and he said, “Is it under True?” And the guy behind him in line started, because his real name was True. So those two guys hiked together for a while and it was confusing and eventually the second guy, whose true name was True, changed his trail name to Nola.

Nola stayed at my hotel last night. So I’ve finally met both Trues.

Today I saw Unicorn and J-Rock again. Haven’t seen them since Uncle Johnny’s in Erwin! They had an encounter with a bear who got their food bag, along with Strider’s food bag, in that same stretch between Fox Creek and Partnership where Freight Train and ET had their bags taken. This time, though, the bear kept coming back, even when J-Rock threw rocks at it. They had to pack up and leave the area to get away from it. Unicorn and J-Rock had most of their food in an untouched canister, but Strider’s food bag (Ursacks, both of them) was destroyed. They said she made it into Marion.

I haven’t seen Strider since Hot Springs, when she was hiking with Trotter and Birkie.

The best degree happened today. When I was getting ready for this hike, I booked my shuttle from Gainesville to Amicalola months in advance. When the shuttle driver picked me up, he swung by another entrance to see if there were hikers, and there were. We picked up a guy named Dan—his first actual trail magic, a surprise ride to the start of the trail. (And that was big magic. It’s like… 40 miles.)

Today I saw Dan! Dan from Day 1. We sat in Orientation together. 😀 Dan is now Wicked, and his long hair is gone, and he’s got the hipster hiker beard. It was great to see him! He’s having a blast!

We’re all just salmon, swimming upstream. It’s nice seeing the same salmon over and over again.

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