8/23/17 – 8/24/17
I decided to take a double zero for my 28th birthday. My parent’s offered to put me up in a nice room to relax, so I couldn’t refuse. Stomper is enjoying the reprieve as well.
Yet another year older, it seems to have come quicker than the previous 27 years. I must admit, even though the years seem to be passing more quickly, ever since hiking the AT at the age of 24/25, the past four years feel like they’ve had a lifetime crammed into them. When I try to think back to all I’ve done and seen, as well as the people I’ve met; I can’t hardly comprehend that it all fits into the span of less than 4 years. It feels like I have more crammed into that short window of time than the previous 23 years. If I can keep up this lifestyle, I feel I can cram multiple (average) lifetimes worth of experiences into this one life. I could never ask for anything more; to live multiple lives worth of sight, sound and touch. As I’ve mentioned previously, you can wake up every morning and decided whether you’re going to live another day, or die another day. You’ll never be as young as you are at this present moment ever again.
Dubois has solidified itself as one of my favorite trail towns out here so far. It’s got the small western town look and vibe, without feeling like you’re missing anything. It’s not so big that you can’t walk anywhere, but not so small as to feel “podunk.”
I experienced a massive coincidence yesterday during my first zero. While enjoying a solitary late lunch at the Cowboy Cafe, a young man approached my booth and enthusiastically asked, “You’re Mayor, right?” “I am,” I replied while trying to determine if I knew him or not. “Holy Crap, this is crazy!” He continued. “It’s me Rash, and Tesla is here too! We hiked around you on the AT last year while you were doing your section hike with Schweppes in preparation for the PCT!” I instantly remembered him when he said this. I remembered the names and the face, although it had matured a bit more. Rash and Tesla were 17 and 16 years old when they thru hiked the AT by themselves last year. I’d met them in very early March at a shelter in North Carolina not far outside of Franklin. I remembered being very impressed with them taking on such an endeavor at a young age, and maybe a bit envious. They both made it all the way, by the way.
Schweppes and I ended up hiking close to 100 miles around them before finishing our section. Anyways, they aren’t hiking the CDT. Rash, Tesla, and their other friend from the AT named Blue have been road tripping around the country all summer. They were in this area for the eclipse, and just so happened to be stopping in town to eat when Rash recognized me. The world can’t get any smaller than that. No matter where I go, I run into thru hikers who are friends, or friends of friends.
The three of them had been camping out of their car, so I extended an invite for them to stay in the room if they wanted. They accepted, so the living arrangements have become a little cozier and livelier. My room has a grill on the porch, so I bought 5 steaks to grill out and enjoy while watching “The Godfather” marathon on television. It doesn’t get much more relaxing.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last few days. Mostly contemplating my place on the trail in regards to the time of year and some of the higher elevation obstacles ahead of me. If winter comes early this year, I very well may be shut out of certain areas in Colorado and northern New Mexico. I’m trying to stay positive about it, but the realist in me knows it’s a huge possibility. This variable window of opportunity to cross over these sections on time is a major source of stress for all hikers out here. I’ve began to stress over it a lot lately as well. Fall is basically here, and I’m not even in Colorado yet, along with dozens of other southbounders. I’m not going to stress over it anymore. If the snow falls and becomes more than I have the skill or threshold to handle, then I will simply walk around it anyway that I can. I won’t let an early winter ruin this thru hike for me. My footprints will connect from Canada to Mexico by whatever means I can physically manage, and I will be more than satisfied with it. I’d rather have my footprints connect from border to border in any way possible, than have a bunch of huge broken up sections that only stick to the trails. That’s my personal preference, but we’ll see how it actually plays out with the weather; maybe I’ll get lucky.
Oh, I shaved my beard into a handlebar mustache. I plan to keep it for the remainder of the hike…
So the rest of the group I’d been hiking with had gone into a town in the opposite direction of Dubois. I’ve been in touch with them, and I thought they were getting back on trail today, but instead they hitchhiked almost 100 miles to Dubois and surprised me with a cake! The caliber of people you meet out here…un-matched
Left to right: Stomper, Funny Bone, Puma, Red Bass