This is the tale of my amazing weekend with Allie.
Tide caught up to me that night that Stephen left. Which means she had to do nearly 30 miles, two days in a row, and I was overwhelmed with admiration for her drive. She has not been feeling well and it was not easy terrain. I was thrilled to see her. I thought I would be alone for a while.
She didn’t take the news about Stephen well. A lot because she didn’t get to say goodbye, but a lot just because she likes him, and me, and really loved the trio thing we had going on. It’s impossible not to get close to the people you walk 2000 miles with! So the next morning, we started out a little burdened.
Things improved drastically when Allie’s smiling face met me on the trail that afternoon. She looked so pretty, with her fancy earings and bright eyes. I was so happy to hug her. Though it must have been terrible for her, since I had been 9 days, count em, 9! without a shower. She had delicious snacks for us, including beer, which we enjoyed in the parking lot. Then she took us to a great hostel in Rutland, where I had one of the best showers of my life. The people and place were really nice, and we had a great dinner. It felt awesome.
The next day, we were able to slackpack 19 miles, thanks to the sweetest trail angel ever, Plans Too Much. That brought us to the Inn at Long Trail, which had the cutest Irish Pub and a great, homey feel to it. And just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I looked over and saw a very familiar face. Cynthia, a 71-year-old woman who I had helped reunite with her husband a couple of days before, as she was lost, for hours, in the woods. Really all I did was walk with her a bit and call her husband, but she was so grateful. She and her husband, Ron, insisted on taking all of us, Tide, Allie, and I, out for a fancy dinner. Not only was it exquisite, but they were an amazing couple to spend time with. So full of life, and loaded with great experiences. It was incredible. Another great hiker, we knew since Virginia, came along. His name is Uli. He’s from Germany. And when asked why he chose the A.T., he gave the best reason I have ever heard. “I have skin cancer, but love the outdoors. So when I found out there was a green tunnel I could walk in, I was immediately drawn to it.” That’s just really amazing to me. And he’s a tough cookie. He’s overcome shin splints, Lyme Disease, and Bell’s Palsy since he started this hike. He’s a very inspiring character.
We camped across the street from the inn that night. It was cozy, and that meant flushing toilets and hot breakfast the next morning. We ended up having a great breakfast with Ron, Cynthia, Uli, and Plans Too Much. It was such a lovely morning. We talked and joked like old friends, and ate well. Again, we were treated by Ron and Cynthia. And we slackpacked 21 miles that day with Allie.
Having Allie’s company would have been plenty of great events for one weekend, but the fact that we got to spend so much time with such awesome people, just upgraded it to the best weekend I’ve had on the trail. I will always remember what it felt like to have such great and unexpected fortune. I have no excuse not to believe in karma. When your heart is open, and you’re doing something brave, great things just come flooding in.
And what did I tell you about Allie being hardcore? She hiked 40 miles in two days with us, like it was nothin’!