Hiking with Friends (June 10)

I was lucky enough to hike with two college nursing friends this week.  Ranita agreed to hike many miles with me to Rockfish Gap.  When we planned this hike I couldn’t stop laughing because I was so pleased, and because she agreed to hike so far!  Her longest hike to that date had been 9 miles, yet she agreed to do 14 with me.  What a friend!

We had a great day together catching up and taking in the views.  I was glad we had such a long hike because we had a lot of catching up to do.  Ranita also often remarked on the natural beauty around us, the creek crossing the trail or the rocky mountainside.  It was good to hike with someone with fresh eyes.  During one notable rest break she used her nursing skills to fling a bee from my arm pit and pull the stinger out.  All in one swift deft move.  I have no idea how it got there, but it was unpleasant.  The AT can be a wild place sometimes.  I was so happy to share a day on the AT, despite its perils, with my good friend.

Becka also had an AT experience, over the course of a weekend.  She said, “I want to see as much as I can during my time out here” so there was no slacking with her around.  We hiked and hiked, through humid, hot afternoons and into evenings.  She hiked 18 miles, 19 miles and 4 miles to finish it off.  Over 40 miles with me!  Becka even started the dreaded “roller coaster” with me- which other hikers had warned her about all weekend.  (A section of hills and valleys with no good breaks in between).

She also never got mad at me the second day despite a mileage snafu.  All day I told her we could hike 15 miles, but unfortunately there were no campsites to be found at that point.  We were both feeling very weary.  It was nearly 4 miles to the next shelter, but she recovered quickly.  We sat by a creek where she serenely washed the sweat away and said, “I don’t get mad about things like this very easily”.  I believed her because 4 more miles upsets most people!

Becka got to see a lot of things.  It was neat to have her with me and see this trip through her eyes.  She saw how the simple amenities, like a (cold) solar shower motivated me- especially after a week of not showering!  We ate dinners with other thru hikers so she saw all the goodies we have out here- hot dogs, ramen, 680 calorie honeybuns, etc.  (Though some of us have higher standards than others.  My friend Craig watched me throw ramen, jerky and crushed English muffin in a pot and asked, “Do you cook much at home?”  We laughed hard at that one.)  I think she could sense some of the community out here.  Everyone cheered when she hung up her bear bag successfully.  We chatted with a hiker who just seemed like he needed a good chat with someone after too much hiking alone.  We saw a bear!  We laid on our mats at the end of long days and laughed at our own relief at not moving.

It was so good to have Becka out here with me, to hike and to catch a glimpse of thru hiker culture.  I think the trail experience will stick with her for a while.  After this trip she said it felt weird to not be moving all the time!  This hiking, it can really get in your blood!

So cheers to Becka and Ranita for shared adventures out here on the trail!  Next victim: Daniel.  He’s not worried though.  He says, “I’m not gonna go easy on you, Katie.”  I see some long mile days ahead for him.

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