It's no secret that I really love the section of the AT I maintain for TEHCC. As a matter of fact, I take every opportunity I can to get out there. Besides the enjoyment I get just from being outside, I really feel like any good deed I can do for the trail or other hikers is bound to help me out when it's my turn to thru hike.
Plus, it's just the right thing to do.
I do believe everything happens for a reason & a recent trip to the barn just reinforced that for me. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon - I had been sick with a sinus issue, but I decided no better time to make a quick trip out. I needed to replace the toilet seat on the privy (yes, I know the glamour of being a maintainer has no end!) & I figured with the nice weather recently that there would be a fair amount of trash to pick up at the barn. So I loaded up the mutt & we headed out.It was an absolutely gorgeous day & when we arrived mid afternoon, the barn was already full of a large group of thru hikers. I had brought along a little traditional trail magic - cokes, PBRs & moon pies - and needless to say, they were quite happy to see me! I was correct in my assumption that there was a large amount of trash so I gathered it all up & changed the toilet seat out.
When I came back to the shelter & started talking to the hikers I discovered one, Danny, a thru hiker from Germany, had an abscessed tooth & was worried he would need to find a dentist to have it pulled. He was in considerable pain & really wanted a root canal to try to save the tooth, but was afraid the delay would cause his visa to expire & he would not make it to Maine. He was also hiking with the largest dog I have ever seen in my life - Baloo, the Irish Wolfhound mix. After talking about it with him & the group he was hiking with, I decided to cut my maintenance trip short & shuttle this eclectic group to Roan Mtn so Danny could get this taken care of. One thing I have noticed in recent years is that many groups that form on the trail tend to want to stick together. In this case it was a necessity as someone had to watch that enormous dog!
Now here's where it got interesting.....
My new (to me) 'E is a little bit smaller than my first one & also does not have a roof rack. Figuring it would take at last two trips, we decided to take Danny (who was also not a very small guy) & Baloo in the first round. We got Baloo in first & then started packing hikers & backpacks around him. We managed to fit another 3 hikers & their gear in & my dog rode in the front on Sketch's lap! Here's the photographic evidence that they all fit:
I felt a little sorry for those guys all folded up as it is a bumpy ride out, but they seemed in good spirits anyway.
Next I went back & got the last three - "White Sidewalls", "Bones", & "Yank" - who had a little easier ride as they only had to deal with a couple of bags of trash instead of 2 dogs.
I later found out that Danny ended up having to have 2 teeth pulled. But he is back on the trail & still heading north. I plan to continue to follow his progress - I really hope he makes it all the way.
It's really hard for me to imagine all the twists & turns the Trail will throw at me when it's finally my turn, but I tell you one thing: I sure can't wait!