Ok, time to introduce you to some of my trail friends, or Tramily (Trail family) as someone put it. You meet so many interesting people on the Trail, here are few of those whom I met. By the time I reached NOC, people tend to find others walking at their pace or who had the same destination on an evening. All of these are through hikers, except as noted. I used the Trail names where they exist:
Zach is from North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in recreation. He spent a year or two in Germany where he worked with recreational activities at an air force base. He met his girlfriend there, who has moved to Hawaii to be an activities coordinator at a hotel out there. Zach will be joining her after he finishes the AT.
Bradley is from Alabama and has put his life on hold for 5 months to hike the Trail.
Bradley and Zach were traveling together at this point on the Trail. They had already had a number of enriching (hair raising?) experiences in the first 10 days and were looking forward to the next few months. I hiked with them for a few days, but they were much faster than I.
Couple from Taos, NM. The wife works in schools with kids with disabilities and is an ultra-marathoner. The husband is a geologist who has quit his job. Very fast hikers. They were doing 20 miles a day. Had packs that weighed 17 and 19 pounds.
Brooklyn – IT specialist from Brooklyn, NY. Quit his job working for a private equity firm to hike the Trail. Sleeps in a hammock.
Rodeo – From Ft. Worth, TX. Pack weight was 11 pounds without food. She said that at the age of 14, she knew what she wanted to do as a career – ride horses in the rodeo, which she did for a number of years. She rode forward, backward, off the side of the horse, through rings of fire and two horses at once. She travelled around the Midwest performing at various rodeos. She met her husband in the rodeo – he was a roper. After a while, she decided she wasn’t making any money in the rodeo, so went to the local junior college and asked what degree would make her the most money in Anytown, USA. The answer: accounting. For 8 years, she studied accounting and earned her degree. Today, she manages a large accounts payable department at a county hospital. She was continuing to Fontana Dam, where she was pulling off the trail. Her pace was steady. She was often the first one out of camp in the morning.
Shannon: From Allentown, PA. Has degree in psychology and was working at an Outward Bound program before she began the AT. She only decided two weeks before she began the AT that she was going to walk it. Her mom tracks her progress with a map and post-it at home each day and sends her a screen shot of the map so that Shannon knows where she is. “Mom, I know I know where I am, because I’m here.”
Doppler: So named because he tracks the weather each day. Has taken a leave from his job as a trucking logistics coordinator at a Miler-Coors brewery in Indiana. His family is meeting himself at various points on the trail.
Ghost: So named because he is so quiet on the trail, that the only time you know he’s there is when he passes you. Is an IT security specialist from Virginia. Quit his job to hike the Trail. Has backpacked many places round the world – including the Camino in Spain.
Marvel: Name came from the Marvel superhero movies. She had a quote from the movie tattooed on her arm, unfortunately, I can’t remember what the quote said, but it was inspirational. She taught English in Japan for 5 years before her last job working in a hospital system.
Scott – From Menlo Park. I know his parents from youth soccer and church. His mom had heard that I was doing the AT, and made the connection for us. We met a couple of times before we both left for our trips to exchange notes. He is on a gap year before starting college. He started 3 days after me, but caught up to me at NOC. Spent a night in my room before I came home and he headed north to Maine. Fast hiker. He was doing 20 mile days.