I’ve been working on completing the AT for just about 6 years. I’ve met so many nice people out there. I’ve met some really interesting ones. Tall ones. Round and square ones. And then there are a handful of the Special Ones.
“They call me Kangaroo,” she said. Sounding sort of like she wasn’t sure if she wanted that trail name to stick. She was carrying her little dog, Lucky in a pouch. Marsupial style. Hence. She wasn’t a Kangaroo.
A little later as Yoga was happening, I think I said, “Kanga would be better. Not Kangaroo!” Then someone said, “Lucky could be Roo!!”
Kanga is from Michigan, but has travelled the world. One of those rare, positive, fearless adventurers I wish I had been at her age. I was 57 when I retired and the wanderlust struck me. Kanga got it young. It suited her. She was instantly interesting. A world traveler, the casual open honesty that is so rare these days.
She taught me lots about how to REALLY leave no trace, and be a healthier trail eater. She ate right. She is not a pop tart kind of Thru hiker. I ate better today…
I got a bunch of these from her:
With a few drops of water, they turn into a towelette about the size of a small wash cloth. You use, fold, use again and pack it out with you. No paper at all in the woods and privies.
She is a very experienced outdoorswoman. I heard her say that she did some work in a National Park out west.
Here is the reason I am writing. Kanga’s cat, Smudge is not well. She received a video message from her roommate, and was torn about whether to go home or not and how to get home from the middle of nowhere. The photo above was taken while all this was happening.
I walked down to join the group and Smokey followed. As Kanga was telling us, Jack realized that he would be able to take her to the airport on the next day. Sherpa, the tall one in the photo, was flying back home to Philadelphia. It was all falling into place.
Then Smokey began to tell us about his two failing cats at home. Smokey is a cat person. As he was telling us, his voice broke and he was unable to speak. He put his head down and became quiet. We all stood there in silence for at least 30 seconds. Waiting for Smokey to go on. He was unable. I began to tear up as did QuickDraw, Kanga, who was already in tears, and Sherpa.
The silence was so special. A truly rare and human experience. I will never forget it.
You know. There is so much bullshit we are faced with in the world on a regular basis. People, even more so with Covid, don’t take the time to connect. We’re too busy. The Trail is different.
In the next 4 or 5 hours of hiking and setting up tents and having dinner, we became real friends. A trail family. A “Tramily.”
We slept and woke up to this:
One of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. There were probably 25 or so of us up on that ridge. Inside the shelter and in tents.
We broke camp and hiked a few miles to the cars. QuickDraw and I to her Honda and the other 4, Smokey, Sherpa, Kanga, and little Roo into Smokey’s 4Runner. After many hugs and a few tears, they went to Smokey’s lake house to clean up and head to the airport. QuickDraw and I went to the Holiday Inn.
I’m in my tent now. Two days later. I miss them. QD and I hiked all day today in silence mostly. I missed Kanga in the middle. The hiking order was me, then Smokey, Kanga, QuickDraw, and Sherpa. Kanga would slide up and talk with us for a while and then back with the other two.
I really miss them tonight. Sherpa, QuickDraw, and I have been friends for a while. I had just met Smokey, Sherpa’s dental school pal, and Kanga two days ago.
That day and a half had a profound effect on me. I’ve really missed people. Good people. Covid has been so damaging for me.
I really miss my students. I love young people, and every once in a while, I would have a student or player I coached, really touch me in some way. I have a short list of those. Kanga has joined the list.
Kanga and Roo.
P.S. When these kinds of things happen, I don’t ask why or how anymore, I just say thank you.
P.P.S. Kanga arrived. Smudge perked up and began eating. They’ve had some quality time together. ❤️