The People We Met During My 230-Mile LASH

“My dad is doing a flip-flop thru-hike, and I’m out for the first month with him.”

This was the way I introduced myself to nearly everyone on the trail. And let me tell you, there are a lot of cool people out on the trail.

About halfway into my LASH (long-ass section-hike), I had a thru-hiker ask me what my favorite part of the trip was thus far.

This took me by surprise because I honestly had not yet thought this through. I quickly responded, “Bear Mountain,” because there were unbelievable views, and it felt like an OK answer that would meet his expectations. Although this is still a highlight of my trip, I have found that there is a much better response to this question.

I thought about this nearly the entire duration of the next day’s hike. There is a  lot of time to think on the trail. Imagine this… nearly ten hours every day just to your thoughts and nature. Occasionally another hiker comes by, and you get to introduce yourself to them. A couple of smiles are exchanged, and it is a great feeling.

This, my friends, is what my favorite part of the trail is. Meeting all of the people. There are some wild people out there, all with many great stories, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you some of my favorite stories of the special people that have impacted me this past month.

Side note: I don’t think my dad has explained yet the concept of trail names. People will get a new name on the trail based on some crazy, fun personality trait. Hence, some of the super weird names below.

Princess

My mom, dad, and I met her on our first night on the trail. My mom was out for the first week. We were stoked, but nervous to be out on the trail. They say you only get one first impression, and I think she was the first impression for my dad’s thru-hike. She was a thru-hiker herself, and she gave us all hope that my dad was going to have an exhilarating adventure. She showed us pictures of her face after she fell in the super rocky section of Pennsylvania. Her face was beyond bruised up, but guess what?  She kept going. We got to spend a night with her on the trail and hear her story.

Honey and Moon

Coolest story ever. They got married on March 2 and started thru-hiking March 5 for their honeymoon. So, the husband’s name is Honey and the wife’s name is Moon. Can this be me? We met them after an intense downhill section. Which, by the way, I prefer uphills because they’re easier on the feet and ankles even though you sweat more; my dad prefers downhills.

Mom

OK, no words can describe the support my mom gives. But one of the most random yet best contributions she gave me was french braiding my hair. After the first week my hair was beyond itchy because it was in a sloppy crazy bun, and I felt disgusting after not doing laundry or showering. Yes, you only shower and do laundry about every five days on the trail. Sounds horrific, but you get used to it. French braids solved all of my problems, and hopefully this explains why my hair is in braids for many pictures.

 

Sniffles

Sniffles and her dad are doing a flip-flop thru-hike on the AT. They were the only father-daughter combo we met on the trail. Sniffles and her dad were split up when we first met them, and they told us how this will happen. Sometimes you get ahead of your hiking partner even though your partner was ahead of you when you last saw them.

This was a good warning for both of us because my dad got lost twice this past month. Both times he was going downhill and not paying attention to the blazes telling him where to go. This caused me to get ahead of him since he went off the AT. The first time it happened I was a little freaked out that he wasn’t at the junction waiting for me that we agreed upon. I then remembered how the same thing happened to Sniffles and her dad, which instantly calmed me down.

No Doubt

One of my favorite thru-hikers that I met. We spent a couple of nights with him on the trail, and his name was absolutely perfect for him. Extremely positive and another flip-flopper. My favorite takeaway from him was his advice: “Smiles over miles.” Even though he’s moving quicker than my dad, I hope my dad gets to see him again. The trail is weird like that.

Bob and Jackie

We met this couple on the trail while they were filtering water. Little did we know we would spend many nights with them. They were beyond nice and gave us Snickers and a ride into town. They had great spirits and always reminded me to keep laughing.

Jiffy Pop

As her name suggests, she always has Jiffy Pop. We had a super fun night at Glenbrook Shelter with about ten people around a campfire. She shared the popcorn with everyone. Food is very precious on the trail (my dad and I normally fight over it), so that was a beyond kind gesture. Oh, and she was also out with her husband doing trail maintenance. To think that the trail is kept up by volunteers is absolutely astonishing. Thank you to all those volunteers out there.

Sail

One of the most famous thru-hikers we met. Whenever we mentioned her name, nearly everyone’s eyes lit up. She is finishing up a thru-hike that she started last year. Her biggest impact on my dad and me is that she showed us how to make pizza on the trail. We have made it twice since then, and it is for sure one of my favorite trail meals. Yum.

Ripple

We met him at Tom’s house in Dalton. He has such a cool social media presence, and my dad is intensely following him on Instagram. He made me realize that my dad best interacts with the 30-year-old crowd. I think this is because my dad’s prime was when he was 30, so he still thinks that he is that old and loves people that age.

Miss B

The sweetest section-hiker ever. She was out with her dog, Rio, and we got to camp with her probably around five nights. She was also a teacher and out hiking for the summer. I guess you could say she’s quite the role model to me and surely makes me glad I’m going to have my summers off so I too can go backpacking for every summer to come.

Tim

We met him and his wife at Mark Noepel Shelter. The next day, we ended up having lunch with them at the lodge at the top of Bromley Mountain. Wow, what a nice couple. They invited my dad to their house for Thanksgiving (down in Georgia). Where else do you just casually invite strangers to your house.

Zach Davis’s Twin

OK, I unfortunately can’t remember his trail name, but my dad thinks he looked just like Zach Davis. We met him when we were setting up camp at the top of Glastenbury Mountain. I was in my tent (because there were a helluva lot of flies), and my dad was at the top of the fire tower making a phone call. Zach Davis’s twin started talking to me, and then he realized the fire tower was talking (aka, my dad). Made for quite the laugh. The next morning we all got to see the sunrise together. Absolutely beautiful.

Luke

Thru-hiking the Long Trail. We spent a rainy night together at Douglas Shelter. He is actually a math teacher himself. Man, there were a lot of teachers out on the AT. My dad enjoyed giving him some Long Trail advice since my dad had hiked a big portion of it last year. Luke and his family also gave us a ride into Manchester Center. The amount of kind acts from the people on the trail is unbelievable.

Ann

The outfitter in Manchester Center is amazing, and Ann is the owner. As stated in a previous blog, I had to give in and get real shoes instead of finishing in my Chacos. My insoles were just hurting way damn too much. Ann is my hero because the shoes she sold me feel amazing, and no blisters.

The Harrys

Two words: hot dogs. Huge shout-out goes to Aunt Mary Ellen and Uncle Pat for sending my dad and me hot dogs and beef jerky. We ate them at Griffith Lake camping area, for sure my favorite camping spot of the whole trip. Fire, hot dogs, camping, and a lake. What is better?

The couple that gave us a ride to the Inn at Long Trail

My last day of hiking was a long one. We hiked up Killington Mountain (which ended up being my favorite summit of the trip. Wow, was it beautiful). We had six miles to climb down the mountain though, and by the end, my dad and I were having (minor) physical issues. My dad had fallen on the way up the mountain, which I must admit ended up being a bit of a bruise. And of course both of our feet were hurting, and I was having a weird monkey butt situation going on. We were not in the mood to walk the extra mile on the highway to the Inn at Long Trail. So we stuck out our thumbs to hitch. A couple picked us up and totally made our day. Again, so much kindness.

Itchy and Scratchy

I actually met this couple on the trail on one of our rainy days during the last stretch, but we really got to talk to them at the Inn at Long Trail. We were all eating breakfast this past Saturday morning (the day I was flying home), and had some wonderful conversations. They sure gave me and my dad hope for all the people that he will still meet even when I’m gone. I can only imagine hiking alone (and I don’t think it’s for me. I made my dad wait for me about every two miles, LOL), but they’re continuing on and so is my dad. So hopefully they shall meet again (even though they’re about a day ahead).

Dad

Last, but not least. Wow. Can we get any closer? We are great hiking partners. We have gotten wildly close. Like I’m talking he has allowed me to pee in front of him. Thank you doesn’t even begin to describe how grateful I am for the past month. 

Life, my friends, is all about relationships.

On and off the trail. There is something to learn from everyone we meet. Now, let’s help my dad finish the next 1,950 miles strong.  Katahdin is less than 500 miles away.

 

Happy trails.

Kaya

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Comments 4

  • Avatar
    Zach : Jul 10th

    “OK, I unfortunately can’t remember his trail name, but my dad thinks he looked just like Zach Davis.”

    Sounds like a handsome guy!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Jaynn : Jul 11th

    sounds like something i just can’t put into words. Thank you… just… thank you…

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Logan "Crusher" Bullitt : Jul 12th

    Kaya, I just had the pleasure of meeting your dad, hiking with him briefly and spending some quality time with him at Tedeschi’s, where we ate for four… Let me say that the only regret I have about meeting your dad is that I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting you as well. Your post and sentiments are certainly simpatico with the quality man that your dad is. We had a great time chatting on the summit of Mooselauke and I know how much he enjoyed and cherished your time together on the trail. You are a special daughter! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Logan "Crusher" Bullitt : Jul 12th

      Sympatico? Sp?

      Reply

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