Trail names are an interesting and amusing phenomenon on the trail. Almost everyone on the Appalachian Trail acquires a trail name at some point in their adventure. My name is Spider, Mel’s is Backfire. I acquired my name while Mel and I were hiking the AT several years ago. I had unknowingly hiked all day with both a spider and a caterpillar in my shoe. Mel acquired his name while hiking the AT with his son, Matt. Apparently, Mel had eaten far too many Brussels sprouts at the buffet prior to starting the trail and Matt was the unfortunate hiker behind him.
The best trail name I’ve heard so far is Mouse Daddy which was acquired by a fellow hiker who had slept in a shelter one night and woke up in the morning to find that a mama mouse had given birth to several babies in his pack while he slept! Hence the name, Mouse Daddy.
Backfire and I have been hiking for seven days now and have logged 70 miles. I think we are doing well especially given our ages. Backfire is 61 and I am 68. We are keeping our mileage low and our pace moderate to start with so that we don’t burn out early. So far, I have had no blisters and no sore muscles–just achy feet at the end of the day. Mel has one small blister. We both feel great.
The hardest part about this trail is not so much the hiking, but the weather. When it rains, everything is more difficult. It’s harder to put up and take down the tent (plus it’s heavier to carry when it’s wet). It’s harder to cook and it’s to stay warm. And sometimes, the rain turns to sleet.
At this time of year, the cold evenings add another challenge. For the last few nights, it’s been down in the 30s. Fortunately, we have warm sleeping bags, but it’s still cold! And it’s hard to break camp with frozen hands! Fortunately, the days warm up and then hiking is again delightful.
One of the real day brighteners on a long day of hiking is Trail Magic (where you unexpectedly come across a food or drink surprise). Backfire and I didn’t really expect to find any magic at all on our hike because we are at the tail end of northbound thru hikers. Many hikers started way back in March or early April (brrrrr). So, yesterday we were pleasantly surpised to find a youth group grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at a road crossing where we were approaching the hardest part of our day, It was relatively early in the morning and Mel was about to pass up the food when I looked at him as if he were nuts. Pass up fresh cooked food after we’ve been eating seeds and twigs for three days?? I had barely choked down half a cold, dry pop tart that morning and wasn’t about to pass up a real meal. In no time flat, I scarfed down two hot dogs, two tomato slices, pickles and a bag of Cheetos. Mel did the same. We weren’t even close to full, but it gave us the energy we needed to climb Rocky Mountain at 4017 feet and Tray Mountain at 4430 feet! Thank you Trail Angels!
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