Memorial Day Weekend provides a respite from the workaday world (and warming weather) to pull throngs of people from the city into the restorative woods. Because we were passing through some park service land (which is better advertised then comparable forest service land) and because we are passing close to several high population areas, the population on the section of trail we passed through probably increased a thousand fold. And with good reason.
We were treated to spectacular swimming holes, clear balds with panoramic views, and open campsites with fresh springs and oak plank swings. In this section of Virginia, the campsites even come fully fernished. (I sometimes field test these quips for humor–only Orion found this one humerus, which led instead to a discussion as to whether quadrupeds actually have four femurs and no arm bones–either way, prey,the disarmed deer no longer has a funny bone in its body).
After crossing over a gorgeous bald with sweeping mountain views, we paused for lunch and a swing. We met a former thru-hiker from 2002 (the same year we last went through) who was out for an overnight with his wife and two kids (four and two). We chatted for a while and they shared some cold drinks before we moved on for the night. We camped by another spring, and met some former thru-hikers (from 1998) who were out for the weekend with their seven year-old daughter Riley (and their dog). Cartwheel hit it off with her instantly (as did Orion with his playmate), and they spent the evening and morning off trooping around on their own (with RobinHood joining them occasionally).
RobinHood helped a thru-hiker named Vagabond build a fire, then they treated us to an impromptu poetry jam as RobinHood recited the poems he’s memorized by Robert Frost, Robert Service, and William Blake and Vagabond returned the favor with some by Emily Dickinson and Anonymous poets. Traveling a long distance trail, the trail becomes a part of you and it’s inspiring to see former trail pilgrims who are now parents sharing those parts of themselves with their kids. The woods is a great place for kids, it helps them grow emotionally, spiritually and physically. The same is probably true for us adults, so we’re glad to see the woods flood with people this Memorial Day weekend (and just as glad that even with the influx we can still find pockets that feel like we have them to ourselves).