What had started as a pretty quiet evening camping by a shelter with one or two other hikers we knew turned into quite a lively morning as more hikers rolled in after dark and in the early morning hours. The kids awoke in their bunkbed hammocks after a night of mild shenanigans, excited for a new audience to which to detail who had climbed into whose hammock during the night, and who had been talking in their sleep about what, and which body parts were flailing when.
Their audience was receptive, and we enjoyed a slow morning of biscuits and tea as yet more hikers rolled in full of coffee from their night in town. On the trail, we ran into two pairs of hikers we had met in Daleville who are hiking the section from there to Harpers Ferry, WV, by having one pair each day drive to the end of the day’s hike and walk south while the other pair hikes north, swapping keys in the middle. They call themselves the MO(ving) FO(rward) group. The kids were excited to find out that one was the grandson of the founder of the Old Town Canoe Factory in Maine, and he regaled them of the stories of his visits to the factory when he was their age watching the workers take a mouthful of tacks, turn them with their tongue and spit them out and hammered them in a seamless motion as they tacked the canvas onto the ribs of the mahogany canoe.
One of the MoFo group had won a set of kid’s hiking poles in a TrailDays raffle, and when we got to the road crossing where their truck was parked, he gifted them to RobinHood, who was quite excited (Cartwheel continues to hike with the stick painted like a pink rhinoceros that she was given at the WoodsHole hostel). As I was sitting here writing this this morning, we ran into the MoFo group again, who gifted us a fuel canister–the one item we were unable to procure in last night’s resupply due to the late hour–so we are doubly grateful to them.
We have friends from the Maine USGS office (science for a changing world) who are down in Virginia doing some surface water sampling, so we hiked briskly to meet up with them by the end of the day, stopping to swim in a stream; stopping again to swim in a reservoir; stopping again to swim in a creek… We arrived at the road minutes before they rolled up in their large sampling van. We all piled in to head into town and enjoy a nice dinner and catching up on the goings on in Maine (the kids were excited to get a photographic update of all the things their friends Jack and Maeva have been up to back home–and the parents’ hearts go out to Collin who’s doing everything back home while Charlie is out sampling).
The kids were treated to an explanation of some of the sampling equipment and methods, learning about stream flows and contaminant loads (RobinHood has now taken to referring to his day’s excrement as his Total Maximum Daily Load). We made it back to the trailhead late in the evening, set up a hasty camp and crashed. The kids are sleeping in late this morning while Mama Bear and I enjoy teas heated on our newly gifted fuel bottle.