One of my favorite things to do these days is to check out AT Journals and see the progress of various hikers who started the trail at different times. It’s helpful to see what gear they may be using, how their hiking technique varies from others and to see what obstacles are causing them the most trouble. I also want to be able to provide Maine trail magic, so it’s good to see if I can shuttle someone or maybe get an idea of what the most desired foods are and have them available at the trailheads.
This past week I decided that I wanted to seek out some SOBOs; South Bounders who begin at Katahdin and end in Georgia, as opposed to the more traditional North Bounders who begin in Georgia. I wanted to see how they were getting along with all the thunderstorms we’ve been experiencing.
The first SOBO journal I came to was High Five and Iceman, and wouldn’t you know it, they just happened to be spending the night in Andover, as High Five had taken a fall on Old Blue and cut her leg.
I signed their guest book and told them I would be willing to shuttle them if they were in need and left them my email address for contact. I was excited to see they responded and jumped at the opportunity to shuttle High Five from Andover to Grafton the next morning, as Iceman had plans to spend the night at Frye Notch shelter and would meet High Five at the Grafton parking lot.
The next morning, I arrived at Pine Ellis in Andover at 7:30 as we had agreed and found High Five readying her pack on the porch, where NOBO, Ace, was eating some breakfast before getting ready to depart.
Ace stated that he was “ready to be done.” I can only imagine the feelings of traveling so far and being so close to goal, but yet still so far away. Blessings of safe travels to Ace as he completes the last 256 miles of the original 2,185.
Now, true to her name, High Five came down off the porch and introduced herself with a high five. It seems she got her trail name due to her desire to high five someone at the top of each hard climb she completed and one day while turning around to celebrate, found that there was nobody to high five.
She loaded her gear into my truck and off we went. During our ride I found out that she is actually just along for the adventure and to be by her fiance`’s side as he completes his dream of being a 2,000 miler.
Iceman, 25, began the trail in 2007 and completed 800 miles to Glascow, Virginia before developing a stress fracture and having to pull himself from the trail. Since then he attended college and worked as an outdoor educator.
High Five, 27, completed a section hike of 500 miles in 2011 to Atkins, Virginia and never really thought that she would be a 2000 miler, but when Iceman decided he wanted to complete his hike she decided to join him.
“We both like hiking and I figure I can totally yellow blaze the heck out of the trail,” laughed High Five. “I’m just here for him.” High Five is a middle school language arts teacher, but also has extensive experience in outdoor survival.
During our conversation I had inquired to what they were going to do after the trail and that’s when High Five told me they were getting married at their completion and heading to Colorado to see what fun they could have.
It’s always interesting to see how the trail changes those who take on its challenge, so I always have to ask.
As it turns out, High Five and Iceman were just planning to wed someplace on the trail while they were out, but quickly realized their families really wanted to see them with a ceremony and reception.
“We told our families that if they wanted a big wedding they would have to plan it out,” giggled High Five. “I like the idea of a big wedding, but didn’t really want to go through with all of it and the expense. My sister is picking out my dress and everyone else is doing the work for us. We just have to walk there. We realized that it’s very important for our families, so why not do it up.”
By the time the couple makes it to the Hot Springs, NC area, Iceman will have completed his 2000-plus mile journey and High Five will have more than 1500 miles under her pack.
Upon our arrival at the Grafton parking lot we only waited a few minutes before Iceman emerged from the trail and High Five was waiting with an orange juice and Dr. Pepper. After showering one another with hugs, Iceman reached into his pack for a Pop Tart. We chatted for a few minutes, but the air had a bit of cold to it and I didn’t want to keep them standing still for too long. I took their photos and bid them well.
It was a pleasure to meet a couple on the trail and to be able to offer them a bit of an escort to their wedding. What a great story they’re going to have to share.
If you’re out and about near the Appalachian Trail or you happen to see a thru-hiker hitching, chances are they have a neat story to share, so why not stop and offer them a ride. You never how their story will affect your life.
If you have story you would like to share with CC’s Outdoor Journal, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.