Somehow unbeknownst to us, we have started a journey to revisit places and people from our time on the Appalachian Trail. This was unplanned and we didn’t realize we were even really doing it until we were on our way out from Gatlinburg, TN. Just pondering our past hiking venture, we discovered how very close places are when you don’t have to walk there. Places that took us several days to hike to now would only take us a few hours, if that driving. With time to burn and in efforts to really get Darwin in the “thru-hiking mode”, we began making our way to Hot Springs, NC.
The rain was a lingering feature throughout the day as we drove up and down winding mountain roads weaving in and out of the fog. Everything outside smelled rich and earthy a characteristic of the East that the Wild West will never know. We arrived in Hot Springs via a road that popped us out into the middle of town. We immediately were thrown back into the year 2015.
“Remember this was where we….” Member when….” “There’s that restaurant! They had great pizza!”
We drove down Bridge Street remembering when the white blazes we were following turned into trail signs in the sidewalk. We parked the Clydesdale across from Bluff Mountain Outfitters and were immediately surrounded by Appalachian Trail EVERYTHING upon crossing the threshold. I saw our old selves and tramily, milling around the store, looking for items we needed and things we didn’t. I actually picked up a new headlamp here, those few years ago. Everything looked exactly the same. Even the box distributing individual zipper bags for sale, a sure sign hikers frequent the area.
After bumming around town for a while we hit the road again for another famous trail town Damascus, VA. While Darwin and I were rehashing the past, we figured we might as well visit Damascus plus we had arranged a dinner date with a member of our original tramily, Apple Cider. Upon arriving in Damascus we found everything closed and not just closed because it was past five o’clock, but closed for the season. The city was basically empty of people except for The Damascus Brewery and that’s where we met up with Apple Cider.
Apple Cider was given her trail name on the first night out on trail having packed out a glass bottle of homemade hard “Apple Cider” (a gift from a family member). Answering to the shortened version of her trail name “Cider”, she started out as a solo hiker and was the first lady friend I made on the trail. As soon as all the hugging was over the three of us started talking, picking up almost where we left off in 2015, like no time had passed. We talked about our time together on the trail, experiences on sections where we hiked apart, and life now off trail. It was a rekindling of hiker spirit Darwin and I haven’t felt since our final summit in 2016. No one out West really knows about the Appalachian Trail and I can’t explain how it feels to reconnect with a person you have shared months on a trail with. When you’ve been with that person during their most raw state, hungry, cold, wet, and exhausted and them with you, you know a most human side that others will not. Life had happened to all of us but yet being together, woke up those same hikers we were before: anxious, excited, hungry, full of energy, feeling strong but yet naive to trail life and clean….very, very, clean.
After a few hours, our time came to an end and we turned back down our separate trails. Darwin and I found a secluded spot to park for the night. Damascus was now still and silent in the off-season but our minds were still moving with hikers and events of the past.
(Cider & I Enjoying Some Trail Magic; Cider, Me, & Darwin Reunion)
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Stuffs:
I Read An AMAZING Trail Journal Written By Another Dear Tramily Member “Roub”. Roub Gives A Very Beautiful Perspective On What A Thru-Hike Is And What It Does To The Hiker After. You Can Check It Out Here.
Review Coming Soon! A Device Allowing Me To Pee Standing Up (I’m finally trying….)
Our Etsy Store: TravelandTrail – NEW BATCH OF ITEMS COMING SOON!
This Is Me On Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries
Other Older Posts From The AT You May Enjoy: