“Hey, we know this guy! Yeah we saw you in the 100 mile wilderness! Yeah you were coming down that steep hill and we were going up!”
“Oh yeah?…oh yeah!! You were standing below me and you were above me on the trail when we talked!”
“Yeah! Yeah! Oh man, you’ve got a beard now!”
“Yeah well that was only a couple days in and now this is nearly three months”
“So how you been doing? Everything going smoothly, you enjoying it?”
“Yeah man, I love it.”
Jeremy and his cousin, I met them on my fourth day out. They were doing just the hundred mile wilderness northbound and then headed home, which happened to be in eastern Pennsylvania. And they happened to be going out on an overnight trip for the first time since then their trip in August. And I happened to have only done a 6 mile day today, a 0 day yesterday, a 25 mile day before that, a 3 mile day before that, a 23 mile day before that and so on.
As the initial questions wore thin I sat there saying every so often, “Man this is crazy to see you guys again.”
Jeremy would agree, “Yeah, definitely. It’s great to see that you’re still plugging along, especially since you got such a late start.”
We talked about things and people we all ran into such as the mosquitoes at Abol Bridge or the man called Padre.
And I sat and wondered, why did I meet them again? Why these two guys? Why two times now? Yeah sure maybe its just coincidence. Maybe its just a funny ‘small world’ occurance going on here and I am reading in to it too much.
Then I saw as I sat in my sleeping bag in the shelter the sky rained down, the night wore gloomier and more pitiful. I saw Jeremy and his older cousin’s faces not grow any dimmer and listened as their laughter stayed strong. I watched their faces glow surrounded by the fire rolling in front of them. What is it though? The rain led me to hike a depressing 6 miles and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening and night in my sleeping bag, warm and dry only leaving to relieve body pressures.
As the overwhelming curiosity we three had of why we met again came to mind one of us would announce “Its great to see you’re still doing well” or “It’s so cool to see you guys nearly a thousand miles down the trail” or “Man, you’re beard has gotten big!”
But what was it they had to offer me and I had to offer them that we all three were together again so many hundreds of miles and many months later?
Maybe it was merely to reinforce the fact that I get to point at everyone who sits in a cubicle all day and laugh. Or I guess maybe I should encourage you all to flick society off at some point and do things your own way.
But honestly, I think the reason Jeremy and his cousin were there at Kirkridge shelter was not to reinforce something they had shown me before, but rather to reinforce something everyone had been showing me and I had ignored. Maybe its as simple as the trail is magic.