Hiawasee Zero

Hiking the AT is a lot like hiking anywhere. There are stunningly beautiful mountain vistas, clear streams burbling merrily along, leaf crumbs and tiny twigs shuffling underfoot, and of course toasty campfires with churning embers to warm your hands by at night. What sets the AT apart are the people you meet.

By the time I reached Neels Gap I was still hiking mostly solo. I had run into several fun people already but hadn't settled into a group yet. Less than a mile later I ran into a group who had camped just outside of Neels and when I left we were a group of three. Groove and Good Wood both kept a similar pace and the miles soon passed underfoot. Groove will often put some headphones in and groove out to some tunes while G-dub is the epitome of the quiet hiker pushing steady miles. We also collected a few more friends who will generally meet us at the same campsites each night. Caveman is the friendly giant full of good cheer with about 8 extra battery packs; Treehugger keeps us laughing with her west coast ways but may be the most fun person on the trail; Lady Poles chats up everyone including that one lady who had the same poles he does; Four is the most generously helpful person you could hope to know and his accent is so much fun.

In AT terms, a yo-yo is when you pass someone and then sometime later they pass you and then you pass them again and so on. As you hike, you'll generally find quite a few yo-yos who don't hike with you exactly but you'll see them multiple times a day or share a campsite with occasionally. Safety First, Papa Mark, Gojo, Peanut, Rick Flair, Tiny, Kiwi, Rooster and his family of four, and B. are just a few of the awesome people I've met so far and I hope to meet many more.

Last but certainly not least, is Miss Janet - a trail angel who drives up and down the AT helping hikers out with wisdom, rides, and effectively a mobile hiker box of goodies. She stopped by and visited us for a bit to dispense cheer and good advice about keeping our spirits up while hiking and not worrying so much about the miles but just enjoying the trail for what it is.

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