I had the pleasure of meeting Garmachi on the trail last weekend and I had a blast. We made some semi-last minute plans and I met him just outside of Damascus VA. It was a long day at work last Thursday and when I got off of work, I left for Tennessee. I met Gary and his merry band of vagabonds where the trail crossed the top of Holston mountain. While I was driving, I received a text from Voldamort asking to bring snacks. I asked "For who?" She answered "He says candy and snacks for everyone. Sooo anything really. Hikers aren't very picky." I thought "Damnit, I'm running late as it is." I ended up buying four different types of potato chip bags and four king sized candy bars, all different types. Somehow I remembered from reading Gary's posts that he had four trail family members hiking with him at the time. After I procured the life bringing snacks for these derelicts I proceded to Holston mountain. The straight highways turned into Blue Ridge Parkway-esque winding inclines. It was pretty, but I was wondering if I had missed a turn. Finally, I saw a sign that said "Appalachian Trail," and there were a couple of dudes hanging out by the road with packs. This is it! I pulled over and said hello. Quickly, I found out that I wasn't there yet, but I was close. One of the guys asked me to take him where I was going, so I obliged. Five minutes later, I made it to the top of Holston mountain and there was Gary with his friends. I opened the truck door and dropped two grocery bags full of snacks, proclaiming "Death match!"
Unfortunately, there was no bloodshed, but everyone was very happy. After the stinky through-hikers had their feast, it was time to hit the trail. In less than five miles we were at Abington shelter. At the shelter I met Fiddlin' Jim, a very nice retiree from Wisconsin. I also met his son and a former medic from the Israeli army named Lemmy. Within minutes I knew that I really liked all of these people and it doesn't surprise me. After hiking for a full month on the AT, it seems as if people start to really lean on each other. More than once, someone told me that if it wasn't for all of their friends, they wouldn't have made it thus far. We woke up on Friday morning and I was the first one packed. I was fresh, of course, and I think I might have sensed a little resentment. Voldamort was the last one ready and after she complained for a while about stepping in someone's shit, we were on our way. I noticed the smell of these guys when I first showed up, but I was stinky from the farm where I work and wasn't going to say anything. I really didn't notice the stench until the we left that day and I was in the back of the line. The combo of these guys was horrendous, but I got over it quick. An hour or so into hiking we came upon a rain that Gary described as "The second hardest rain in a month." In fifteen minutes we were soaked to our underwear, but the power of determination kept us aloft. Nobody said anything. Everyone put their head down. Miles were made. Finally, the rain stopped and we crossed the Tenn/VA line. Everyone took pictures and we moved along. After ten miles, we made it to Damascus. We had breakfast and made our way to a hostile named "Crazy Larry's." I remember at one point, after talking to Larry, whispering to Gary " This guy is volatile." And he was. He was a crazy. That was OK. These guys needed a shower and I needed to relax. We did just that and it was wonderful. I played Magic The Gathering with Lemmy, the Israeli guy. I watched skinny people eat more than the fattest people I've met. I listened to Crazy Larry's rantings and ravings, but most of all, I got to hang out with my friend Gary before he was off on the trail to Maine. I probably won't be able to meet everyone on the trail again, but I truly hope that I can keep in touch with all of them some how. I feel like I've known them all, all of my life. I don't know if it's because they were all deprived of varied human contact, or if Gary picked a group of friends that melded with his personality, or if they were just all very cool people. I will tell you this, though. Fifty percent of me wanted to drop everything that I'm doing and join the trek. The other half wanted go home to my wife, dogs, bed, all the food I can eat, and a shower.
This is all a stream of consciousness post. I'm not going to edit it. I just wanted you guys to know that I had a great time with our friend.
I'm tired of these motherf*&%ing Primordial Hydras on this motherf*%$ing plane!