Trail Days 2024 Hiker’s Stories – “Forager”

 “Bad Idea” and his mild-mannered canine companion Willow were a couple of my closest neighbors in Tent City. Their Durston tent was already well staked out across the pathway when my friend Dave and I arrived and started pitching our tent Thursday evening. When we turned in Thursday night, the area of Tent City near us seemed full, but as we climbed out of our tent on Friday morning, we noticed that someone had somehow managed to, in the darkness of night, pitch a small, single person Big Agnes next to us. It was not until the last day of Trail Days that we finally met “Forager,” our mystery neighbor who had managed to find enough space next to us for her tent.

Caroline D. Bruno, a.k.a. “Forager” considers herself a “digital nomad” with ties to the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area but now associates herself with Florida for tax purposes. Since March 9th, however, when she began her NOBO thru-hike, the AT has been her physical home.

When I interviewed her at Trail Days, Forager said that the best part of her hike so far had been the “overall feeling of community and camaraderie” she had experienced along the trail, “mostly from chance meetings.” She also mentioned the view from Big Bald.

The worst part of the hike between March 9th and Trail Days was after leaving the Roan Mountain Shelter and having to hunker down between Grassy Ridge Bald and Jane Bald during a “horrendous thunderstorm.” She recounted how she had pitched her tent below the two balds during that stormy night but that both she and her tent survived in spite of at least two violent wind gusts.

Forager values the camaraderie she experiences on the AT and found Trail Days filled with “great people and good times” and appreciated “catching up with who is on the trail and who is not on the trail.” The number of people present at Trail Days, however, was not her idea of companionship, and she admitted that she did not like the festival crowd.

A big day hiker before she started her thru-hike, Forager admitted that she had never backpacked over night before her first night on the AT. Her main reason for attempting a thru-hike this year is simply because she has “always wanted to do it.” And when she became unemployed by downsizing, she jumped at the opportunity to finally attempt an AT thru hike. When I pressed her to say more about her motivations, she simply replied “Why am I here, other than always wanting to do it?” Silence followed.

An active blogger on The Trek she started posting before she began her thru hike. She is also regularly posting on Facebook. In one of her latest posts to Facebook before this post, she noted that she had just passed the 800-mile mark!

Of the eight hikers I interviewed at Trail Days 2024, Forager was last one and the most extensive interview I conducted. I wish her well and will continue following her on Facebook as well as The Trek.

If you have enjoyed this series of eight Hiker’s Stories, please let me know with a comment.

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