Sunday, June 29, 2008

Grandpa Joe, is that you?


Goose and I hiked with Grandpa Joe (actually 21 years old) in the Smokies and saw him off and on through Pearisburg. But then the lad took off and got ahead of us. I only knew of his journey by reading his entries in the shelter registers. He knew nothing of where we were at.

This week, as I cruised through Shenandoah, I realized that I was gaining on Grandpa Joe. With one day to go before I got off in Harper's Ferry, I finally caught him at the Bear's Den Hostel. He was shocked. Nearly sixty days into our hike, Grandpa Joe and I were back on the same schedule.

It had been a week of solitude for me and seeing Grandpa Joe was like seeing an old friend. We both instantly embraced the encounter and hiked together for the next 24 hours. I caught him at 1 pm in the afternoon, halfway through the Roller Coaster, a 13 mile stretch with ten 500 foot climbs. We ended up hiking late into the night, stopping at the Blackburn Trail Center for a free dinner of spaghetti and then again at a convenience store at Keys Gap for beers. We ended the night two miles north of Keys Gap by setting camp in the woods at 12:45 under a sky full of stars.

Grandpa Joe and I hiked into Harper's Ferry the next morning where Steve, Emma and Will picked me up for a weekend off in Bethesda. Grandpa Joe hiked on, but I hope to catch up with him again.

No comments:

Post a Comment