have been terrific! I am truly living my dream. I am gleeful even when I am smelly, tired, being eaten by mosquitoes, whatever. The novelty "I am hiking the Appalachian Trail... I am still hiking the Appalachian Trail.... Woah, I am on the friggin Appalachian Trail..." has not worn off.
In West Virgina I met a young man thru-hiker named Sonic. I wish I could hike 33 mile days with him just for his cheery company--he's a regular BFG (Big Friendly Giant)--but I can't. I'm pleased if I hike 12-15 miles in a day at this point. Sonic hopes to reach Mt. Katahdin in Maine on his one year anniversary of being sober. He has been through a lot, and this journey is part of his rehabilitation process. I respect him a great deal. He knows things I never will.
I'll remember Maryland as one gigantic wedding, or celebration of all weddings ever performed. Miles and miles of Laurel flowers, white blossomy puffs, grace the A.T. and as luck would have it, are in their full glory this week. Walking through it, especially alone, is dreamy. There's no other word for it. Dewy, translucent spiderwebs span the trail in the mornings and stick to my arms and legs and face as I push through them. I saw a hummingbird and a coyote close up; I walked two feet away from a tiny fawn that sunk into the grass to hide rather than run away from me; I talked to a turtle on the trail whose vivacious, neon orange body startled me from under its dreary gray shell; I gasped four times for each of the snakes I've seen.
Now, I'm here in Pennsylvania. I have officially accepted the name "N.P." (for "No Promises"), named by a gentleman known as "Little Brown." It came about because so many people asked if I was thru-hiking, and eventually my curt reply was "No promises." Little Brown laughed and said, "Hey, N.P." And that was that. Better than the alternatives. For example, some older woman said, "You should be Sunshine. You are such a Sunshine." Let me remind you, I am a Solo Woman hiker. I may as well be named Bambi. For a little while, I was tempted to go by "Smelly Feet" or "Giardia" (the nasty contaminated water disease), as an attempt to ward off unwanted interest. But you are supposed to be named by someone else, and N.P. is probably the best name for me anyway.
At this point, June 201o, the A.T. is the only place I want to be. I am at the infamous Doyle Hotel (an old, old, crumby hostel popular among A.T. hikers for its cheapness and proximity). I am showered, laundered, fortified by beautiful letters, and stocked up with groceries for this next week. How could I ask for more?
Thank you again for the wonderful letters and for all your love.