Stepping onto the trail, I heard the wind moan in the distance. The white blazes I followed south blended into the pale landscape. I plowed through the accumulation with a new spring zest. Winter had returned for one last hooray.
Feeling warm - I readjusted my face cover and kept my head low, preventing the sharp gusts of snow from stinging my stiff face. It felt good to drift through the blizzard conditions. White blazes flew past as I ran toward Wayah Bald. My plan was to stop just shy of the summit, where I would take cover in the shelter for a few minutes. I wondered if anyone would be out hiking or if everyone was holed up for the day. I continued running south.
I approached the shelter and was surprised to see seven tents and a hammock set up near the shelter. Walking into the shelter I noticed three hikers gearing up to hike on. Listening to their conversation, it appeared they were heading south, up to Wayah Bald for the night. My attention drifted toward the deeper recesses of the packed shelter. My eyes adjusted to the dim light. The faces of each canned thru-hiker came into focus. Each pair of eyes stared wildly back at me. I recognized their stares instantly. It was the wild look that only life in the woods could bring.
As I looked through the trail register, my attention drifted back toward the hikers in their frost covered sleeping bags, who reminded me more and more of canned sardines. I made eye contact with a few and asked, “Is everyone here, headin’ to Maine?” A low resounding ‘Yes” came from the group of hikers. Smiling, I continued writing in the shelter log book. I wished the hikers well as I exited the overstuffed shelter. Their farewells were muffled by the reintroduction of wind and snow. A sense of envy came over me as I re-connected with the blazes north. Oh, to be hiking to Maine - again. Smiling, I began retracing my footprints…
Fresh snow coated my tracks.