A wise man once said that if you go out for a hike, you become part of the trail; but if you thru-hike, the trail becomes a part of you. Or at least the man who said it likes to think of himself as wise. Once you’re as old as my dad, people just start referring to you as a wise man; when you’re still as young as I am, they just refer to you as a wise guy (the frequent exercise of my old man’s wit has, however, kept him spry and youthful in this particular regard).
Today brought many milestones. Again, I’ll point you to Wired’s account of the day for a more complete picture of the day’s momentous events. As her loyal readers are aware, she is much more of a diligent blogger who has the discipline to post daily (I’m more of a dilettante blogger, who likes to take an evening to read fiction now and again).
Today we crossed the 1,000 mile mark. We also left Virginia (the longest state along the trail, making up almost a quarter of its length), and Cartwheel kept up her rotating regimen. All this occurred on an up and down section of the trail known as the roller coaster (note the picture of everyone throwing their hands up in the air on one of the fast down hill sections). For more play acting pictures by the kids, see the same day’s post by Wired.
We all had nice views from Bear’s Den rocks, saw a blue tailed lizard (not our first), and had pizza and Ben & Jerry’s at the Bears Den Hostel, and then headed on to a thousand miles and West Virginia. Wired even joined us in our border crossing thank-you circle ritual where we all sit in a circle and each person passes out a piece of candy (or on this hot day, an orange slice) to each other person as they say one thing that person made them thankful for during the state from which we are departing. It was quite touching to hear the kids’ kind words for Wired.
It has been a real pleasure walking with Wired for the week. While we won’t be able to keep up with her as she picks up the pace again, she has been a great hiking companion. The kids now treat her as an honorary member of the family in a way that can only be achieve in such a short time when you’re out in the woods together (which has a way of accelerating the formation of relations). Unfortunately for Wired, once she achieved honorary family status, she fell into the black hole predicted by my special theory of relativity (these experimental results suggest that perhaps ‘c’ should be based on whether the hiker in front of them has demonstrated unconditional love for them rather than being tied directly to genetic relatedness–I may need to revise my formula). We were doing a short day, and Wired had planned to hike with us for that short day, then leave us around noon to do that many miles again in the afternoon. Because of all our tomfoolery, it was closer to 3:30 by the time we parted ways.
We stayed the night with Scott and Marie Wheaton and their kids Lydia (who is Maddy’s age), Jonathan, and Caleb. The Wheatons are another trail family: Scott thru-hiked in the late nineties, then he and Marie went thru again nine years ago, then they managed a couple trail hostels for several years until their third kid came along. They too have had the trail weave its way into their souls (or soles in the words of the wise guy). We met them in the Shenandoahs this year and they graciously welcomed us into their home (which backs up to the trail) as well as into their hearts (which are similarly tied to the trail). We were blessed to share a special dinner with them, then Cartwheel slept in Lydia (Hikelit)’s room, while RobinHood slept on the top bunk in the boys’ room (with Mooch and Hurricabe).
In the morning, we all had breakfast together and they walked us a mile down the trail before cutting back toward their house.