I awoke after a really good night's sleep. It was cold but not freezing that night and I slept a solid 10 hours. The birds chirping and the thought of hot coffee are the only reasons I finally sat up. The sun was warming me up nicely and drying out my gear. I cooked up a bowlful of oatmeal and drank my coffee while I looked over maps of the trail. A sure sign that it's gonna be a good day is when all my gear fit just right into my pack. I've eaten enough food from my last re-supply that it's not so heavy. The trail today was compact earth softened by pine needles. I hiked through thick woods and past beautiful little lakes without seeing another soul.
Of course, all my best trail stories involve other people and this one is no exception. I was taking pictures of flowers when two men and a woman came walking toward me. We quickly established that I was hiking and that they were collecting mushrooms. They kindly invited me to their camp for lunch. I honestly did not want to impose but I did need water and they said they had plenty. Here's where it gets hard to believe. Within a half an hour of arriving at their camp, Bob tells me he's into craft-brewing beer and he has a corny keg of IPA and one of oatmeal stout (and a CO2 tank to dispense it). Jerry sets up a comfortable chair and table for me and Kelly asks me if I want a giant slice of homemade apple pie. Now, those of you who know me are saying "Poor Wolverine... He's been out there so long he's starting to hallucinate. He thinks people are magically appearing in the woods with delicious home-brew and apple pie. Poor guy." But they did! Honest-to-goodness Trail Angels came out of the woods to drink beer with me all afternoon. They said they were from Grand Rapids and that they had been coming up to Pigeon River to look for Morell mushrooms for 25 years. I so enjoyed their company but I had to get back to it. I tore myself away and tripped along the path for a few more hours making pretty good miles even with the break. I hiked until sunset and found another sweet spot to camp.
The lesson I keep learning on the trail that I try to apply to my life is that you've got to keep moving forward. You never know what you'll see or who you'll meet. Keep at it even when it's cold and raining and hard to find your way. There will be warm, sunny days ahead filled with craft-brewed beer and apple pie!
If Jerry, Kelly or Bob reads this, please leave a comment to confirm your existence.
|Pack explosion! Drying my gear in the sun.|
|Solid blue skies. Sunny, but with a cool breeze.|
|Trillium. The forest floor is covered with them.|
|Flat, straight, well-blazed trail.|
|Trail Angels Jerry, Kelly and Bob. I swear they really exist!|