Saturday, July 8 2017 (Day 66)
I started my hike in late morning. I determined that I was roughly 10 miles from Luray. I passed a hiker that I had spent the night in the bunkhouse with. They were on the phone. They introduced me to their friend on the other line and told me to say “hi”. As I continued on I heard them say “Giggles actually saved my hike”. I was filled with joy. They had decided not to get off trail. That was something worth falling behind for, I thought.
As I neared Luray, a section hiker I had met a couple of days back came up quickly from behind. I let them pass. Soon I passed them as they were taking a break on a rock. They started up again, soon after. They were hiking too closely behind me. It made me uncomfortable. I could hear the cold clink-clank of their trekking poles against stone. I let them pass once more. They were not moving so quickly, however. They tried making conversation. I did not wish to talk…but they asked the right question; they asked about the PCT. We began chatting. As we neared Thornton Gap, they asked if they could hitch in to Loray with me. We were both going to the same place, I could not say no.
When we reached the gap, they followed my lead across and down the curved road to where I felt would be the most probable spot to catch a ride. I stuck out my thumb. They did the same. Something inside of me was bothered at seeing their arm outstretched and thumb extended beside my own; that I was not a complete and independent representation of myself. I told myself that I was being small. I told myself to grow up…we were both going to the same place. I can be part of a team once in a while.
It was not long before we got a hitch. I asked to be dropped off at the outfitter where my phone battery was being delivered.
Once at the outfitter I collected my package, checked the hiker box, and tried out the new battery. It still would not charge. What would I do now? Do I buy a new phone? There was no way I could afford that, I was barely getting by as it were.
The hiker I hitched in with asked what my plans were. I told them that I planned to go to Wal-Mart to see if they had a solution for me. They said that they were planning on going there as well, to resupply. They were going to drop their things off at a hotel and call for a ride there. I decided I may as well go with them. Wal-Mart was over two miles away, I would not mind tagging along for a ride.
While in the hotel office, the person at the front desk stated that all they had available was a room with a king bed. They turned away to a board of keys on metal rings hung on wooden hooks and fidgeted a bit. They then said, that a room with two queens had just become available for the same price. The hiker said that they would take the king, as it would just be them. Then they turned to me and said “unless you want to stay in a bed”. I told them I would not be able to pay. They said that didn’t matter. A free bed and a shower? I agreed.
Wal-Mart did not have a solution. I bought a grapefruit and an apple, too distracted to properly resupply. Back at the hotel, I was able to use the hikers phone to order an external charger specifically for my phone battery, and had it sent to Front Royal, VA. That was the only solution I could think of. At least I had two batteries now. I could charge one while using the other.
I copied the way points from their AWOL guidebook on the AT. I had been using the Guthook application on my phone for maps and way points and mileage. Now I would rely on these notes. The trail is incredibly well marked…I was not concerned with getting lost. My greatest concern was my ability to record the adventure.
We walked together to the Dollar Tree where I resupplied. There was an old cemetary along the way. It looked amazing in the moonlight. The clear skies and bright moon made me long for the trail…but it was too late to head back now.
Once back at the hotel we watched Office Space on the flat screen TV. They kept making conversation during the commercials. They seemed very interested in my lifestyle. They kept mentioning that they were sad that they would not likely see me again on trail. It was well after midnight before I turned off the television and fell asleep.
At around 4 am I woke to something touching my arm. I opened my eyes to see the hiker leaning over me. “Scoot over” they said. “No!” I replied. “I am comfortable in the bed alone.” “Scoot over”, they said again. Again, I replied with “No”.
They proceeded to leap over me anyway, and tried to cuddle me from behind. I resisted. They then began to tickle me. I pushed their hands away and told them that I was about to seriously get upset. They stopped. Still lying beside me, they kept saying my name, my real name. They said they would not let me sleep. They kept urging me to turn around and face them. I ignored them. If this persists, I thought, I am going to have to leave. Eventually they got up to use the bathroom and returned to their own bed.