Hullo, my calamitous crustaceans. I hope you are well on this fine November afternoon.
On the subject of winter, of which we have all heard so much…
Winter? I don’t think it exists.
So perhaps it has been a bit misty and cool. Last night, it dropped down to a fine and glorious 11F. When I woke up, there was a bit of frost on the ground. However- come now- we must not be too hasty! Please. Implacable orbits in space? Piffle. This “cold” is merely a brief and passing symptom of a larger societal problem: namely, of our marked inability to warm up the atmosphere more than a few paltry degrees (if that). Obviously this is a shortcoming that our species must address…. Now, if the trail has taught me anything, it is how to set all the things on fire, even under what some might call, “adverse circumstances.”
Though I pick my fuel from the days or weeks-old detritus that lies on the forest floor, I hear that hydrocarbons burn so much better and are so much more expensive when the pressures of our vast and glorious world have been brought to bear on them for several hundreds of millions of years. (Think, like a fine wine instead of fresh grapes, Watson.)
When the rain starts falling, like any responsible wood-stove-cooker, one simply sets more things on fire with greater gusto. This is the perfect metaphor for our current predicament, and I am sure in time we can eventually do away with our pesky friend, and then no one will ever have to hike in the cold again. HUZZAH
But enough of such nonsense, dear Watson. This is merely a short note to let you know I did not actually sleep out in the crisp, clear, cold last night.*
*Truly I am weak.
Instead, like any half-breed former ranger spawn, I walked into the Shenandoah Visitor’s Center and said hullo to my friend Julia, who (with her housemates Annie and Chrissy) made a bed for me these past two nights under their front porch with deer and other furry mammals. As one does. (I definitely slept on their couch under fuzzy blankets, instead of next to fuzzy mammals, which was even more ok because through the window one can still see the stars.) There was a Harry Potter watch, homemade pizza, music and song and fiddlework and Irish dancing, pumpkin bread, two stags fighting outside, a demonstration of the same inside, and soup of the butternut squash apfel variety, to name only a few of the things that can be experienced in a ranger haus on the Shenandoah ridgeline. Dear Yosemite: Shenandoah rangers are pretty darn ok too. ❤ ❤ ❤
Once I leave, it is a paltry 100 miles from here to Harper’s Ferry, which I will walk with a bit of sadness, because 1. Slowly I am leaving Southern climes 😦 and 2. As of a few days ago, I am over halfway done with the International Appalachian Trail in the US. According to Ian Frazier, everybody has a country not their own that they are powerfully drawn to; but, sweet Glory, this country is mine. If the entire trail were fully established at this very moment, I might well have decided to start in Morocco, and the only reason would be so I could spend the next few years walking in the direction of home. (Bah. I suppose when we reach that point we will have to bring it full circle, after all, and sail across the equator like a bunch of navigationally competent madmen, pending Great Success. Weather permitting. All the conditionals, all the time, say my Second Thoughts.)
Anyhow, I will be walking forth from here in the morning, and will see you in Harper’s Ferry in five and a half days. There’s a trail I have plans to take from there to DC (BLUE BLAZE 75 MILES EAST WAHOO) and if I am correct in my calculations, that is where I will be come Thanksgiving. Friendsgiving. Giving of thanks. And then, O, then back to the trails, and ever northwards, dear readers, until we go east! And then south! and… yes, all the things.
One of the other things that has been on my mind, as I trample through the rocks and squelch dead leaves underfoot, has been trail logistics. I still do not know how I will get across the Atlantic, you see, and that will strongly determine the order of the trails we’re doing on the other side. At this pace, and if we walk up the Canadian trails in three or four months, I’ll be done with North America in late summer 2018, or a little bit past that. I am sure we can cross that ocean when we come to it, though. So it goes, Best Beloved.
Anyways, I am off to go play outside. On this day of veterans, I wish you all a beautiful day, as always, but also and especially thank you to the men and women who dedicated their lives in service to our country.
Keep being friends, my people.
Yer erstwhile long-distance-hiking buddy