Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bugged Out In Virginia: Part 6 - Half Magic

"I carried two liters of water for him, and he didn't even know my name!"...that is not the kind of conversation you hear in everyday life, but sitting around the cold firepit that evening, he had everyone nodding their heads in agreement. There was little worse than the one-sided friendship that sometimes became the norm in the woods. Another young grizzled guy was massaging his bare foot and saying that he was strong everywhere but in the one place that really counted. There were new shoes waiting for him in the next town, and he had high hopes that would solve his sore feet for good. I learned about making 'cowboy coffee' and using a really long spoon for dipping food out of the freezer bags. Stories abounded about the hikers ahead of the group and those lagging behind. Everyone was talking about zero days and nero days. It started sounding to me that these lovers of nature liked the town stops as much as I did. The town of Glasgow was mentioned frequently. It was nothing more than a dot on a map of Virginia, and Paul had noted that it was 5 miles off the trail, much too far to walk for a shower and some real food. What Paul had neglected to mention or didn't know, was that the town of Glasgow would gladly pick you up at the trail, take you to town and bring you back for free...not only that, they had a free shelter in town where you could spend the night. You could get food, and a shower was only $5. You might wonder why a small town would be so generous, but that would be because you've never witnessed what happens when a backpacker hits town. They may look homeless to you if you saw them walking down the highway, but they have credit cards and are ready to use them. They like high volumes of carbs and expensive super-lightweight stuff for their packs. It would be nothing to see one of these straggly guys walk into an outfitter store and drop $200 on a pair of shoes, or $300 on a lighter sleeping bag. This is kind of stuff that small town dreams are made of. I'd never heard of Glasgow before this trip, but by this day, the trail grapevine was beating big drums for the town and I was already planning on what I was going to buy when we got there, but Paul was having none of it, because it wasn't "part of the plan".
We spent the day hiking, having great conversation about how we needed to make up time, and get to the next shelter that Paul excruciatingly set up for us. Me, I was thinking way more about what kind of burger I was going to get in Glasgow. I was starting to sound like that guy in Forrest Gump: Mushroom burger, Cheese burger, Cheeseburger with mushrooms, Bacon Burger, etc.  Although Paul was hanging tough on sticking to the plan, it was more than the weather going against him. He was getting cryptic messages from home, and I would more than a few times hear him mutter, "Now, what is that supposed to mean?" I began to see how, with Paul this distracted, that I might actually get us off the trail and get a shower and a fantastic meal, fast food of the gods, was how I was seeing it. It was not the best thing to do, starting to fixate on food I could not have, while deep in the woods, because it was a short trip from that to thinking about trail magic. If you have followed me before, you know that trail magic is stuff left on the trail by people known as trail angels. Like other times, when groups of hikers got together around a fire pit, there would be stories of almost impossible magic. A guy that had a stove in the woods, and was cooking up steaks for anybody that came by. A truck that stopped by a trailhead and everyone that came out from the trail got a beer or softdrink. For some reason, the craziest one to me was the story about an ice chest that contained ice cream. I started drooling while the guy was telling the story, and it never quite left me, my brain easily sweeping aside any objection that ice cream would not last long in an ice chest. These thoughts kept me moving up the mountain, knowing that a day ahead of us was the wonderous town of Glasgow, where rides were free, showers were available and there was a pizza place right next to the shelter. Part of me was recalling what the storyteller has warned: "It's a Trap!"

I paid that part no mind, and kept going, thinking the best part of the hiking was when it stopped, and there it was right in front of me: a small gravel road crossing, and a old horse fence on the side of the road. Right there, miles from civilization, there was a soft Yeti cooler just sitting there...I keep telling myself that it could not possibly contain a Dreamcicle, but I wasn't really that picky, even if it was nothing but one of those nutty little ice cream cones, that would be fine, as I stumbled forward to get there before Paul saw the ice chest.
I opened it with my heart pounding and suddenly realized it had nothing but trash cream bar trash.
"Well, I don't really like that processed stuff anyway", Paul said as he walked up..."It hurts my stomach"....slowly I turned.... 

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