They may make the local news. They’ll give the trail some publicity: their frozen bodies found just off the trail, mangled from crawling through the thorn covered vines, their pillow cases full of crap abandoned nearly a mile away.
I came up to them laying on the trail, arms as pillows beneath their heads. They are free and that is all that matters.
“Where you headed?”
“Virginia,” they say enthusiastically.
The big one looks at my pack. “You have enough food to get to Virginia?”
“Oh, god no,” I respond. “It’s going to rain you know.”
“Oh I guess we better get moving again.” They hop up and grab their pillows of what they call ‘gear’.
I can see the headlines. In a couple weeks: Two Pennsylvania Boys run from home have not been seen in three weeks.
In three weeks: Boys found on Appalachian trail, bodies mangled.
Their wet jeans and hoodies won’t do too much to insulate them from the cold. Their excitement won’t save them from the harm their naivety causes them. But we’ll see. I hope they leave the trail before it reaches that point.