Hey everyone it's breeze!
The picture below pretty much sums up the day for me and Wendy. Beginning last night at around 7 pm, I have been out of my sleeping bag for maybe 30 minutes. Because of the weather and the fact that we have a few days to get to Franklin, we decided to take our first zero day of the trip. We don't feel bad about the decision though. Wendy's knee could use the rest, and several hikers who have thru hiked before also decided to spend the day here in the shelter.
The Appalachian trail is a fascinating place. One hiker drew up a metaphor that related the trail to a DMV. Only on the Appalachian trail and the DMV can you meet people from all walks of life. People that would never talk to each other in real life chat all day, and really enjoy each other's company. Retired teachers and doctors hang out all day with young college students, high school drops outs, stoners, and everything in between. But no group of people is more fascinating to me then the mountain men.
I met my first group of true mountain men today. They call themselves hiker trash, and are as hard core as hikers come. They are the modern day Huck Finn, except with massive beards and a smoking habit. All of them have completed a thru hike before, and most of them have completed multiple thru hikes on different trails (and they're only in their mid 20s). Most of their gear could be found in thrift stores or hiker boxes (people leave gear at hostels and outfitters that they don't want. Other hikers can come along and trade with the box if they see something they like). It's very tattered and worn bc of all the miles the gear has seen. They cook over an open fire every night and don't carry tents. They either stay in the shelters or cowboy camp. Oh, and did I mention that they do 20-30 mile days? One guys record is 56 miles in one session! As you get to know them, you begin to realize that they aren't like most thru hikers you meet on the trail or on the internet (they calls guys like me that talk about thru hiking at home "internet blazers"). This isn't some once in a lifetime adventure for them; this is their life. They aren't in between careers like I am. This is their career. There is a saying among thru hikers: if you make it all the way, you only come half way back. I'm beginning to see the validity of that statement.
Hanging out with them all day has been awesome. They are super cool, easy to talk to guys. They have a wealth of knowledge and act as mentors out here for us new thru hikers. They may roll their eyes at our new, shiny gear straight from REI, but you can tell that they truly want everyone they meet to finish.
Trying to keep warm!