Fire Flies and Roller Coaster Threats – 11 June

Last night was one of those great nights. We camped alone AND we had cell phone reception.

Camping alone means you can chat when you are awake in the middle of the night, and you can be kind to your bladder as often as you need to (you won’t be disturbing anybody when unzipping and zipping up tent sides when you go out and back into your tent).

It was during one of these “outings” that I thought (for a moment) that somebody is taking a picture of me peeing in the woods! But when it wasn’t one flash but easily 30 I realised there were fire flies around us – how spectacular!

Having signal means I can send some notes off, write and publish the blog, and (because we had no neighbours) even WhatsApp Call my mom at 4am from the tent!

Weather wise we had the perfect day, sunny but not too hot.

We had an uninvited visitor for lunch:

At some point one of the Youngsters we know came by and asked if we are ready for the roller coaster. We know in Virginia they talk about the trail as doing a roller coaster but unbeknown to us here is a stretch of trail being called that….sounded a bit intimidating.

Shortly after lunch we saw a sign: HIKERS WARNING: YOU ARE ENTERING THE ROLLER COASTER, BUILT AND MAINTAINED BY THE TRAIL BOSS AND HIS HELPERS. ENJOY THE RIDE, SEE YOU AT RAVENS ROCK”. Clearly somebody wants to scare us, but how bad can it be? What have we been doing day after day for more than 2 months now: up and down mountains/hills. How different can this be?

Well it wasn’t different but it was quite tough – some of our kilometers took 21 mins to complete. And it does seem as if they looked at each hill and found the toughest route over it. But we managed the first 10km easily and tomorrow we will do the last 10km while we are still fresh.

On the roller coaster we met Scott. He is from Florida and says “seventy two and hiking thru” – I must say he looks much younger than 72, but he isn’t fast. Such a nice, calm man. When you ask somebody where they are heading to everybody can tell you where they target to get to for the night. Not Scott – he said “I go as far as I can and when I get tired I look for a camping spot”. There is sometimes a frenticness on the trail, kids rushing through at speed walking pace, us pushing ourselves to come to our target destination for the day, always trying to go further/faster. Scott has a serenity which we should all admire and try to bring into our lives….on and off the trail.

Oh and Scott is also funny – he said he needs to eat: he has lost 28pounds and looks as if he just came off a shipwreck (his words!)

Coming to the top of the 2nd roller coaster hill the trail crossed a parking lot where a handsome young man waited for us with ice cold Gaterade (now my favorite!) and pineapple slices and small naartjies…..trail magic: I really wasn’t expecting this on the roller coaster and on a Tuesday! Sniffles did the thru-hike two years ago, he is an actor working at REI (big sport shop chain, think Outdoor Wearhouse) in Washington DC and just drove out here (75mins) to do trail magic “to be near hikers”. I suspect once one leaves the AT you miss the magic obsession with the trail and with being on the trail: I think often the smaller trail magic offered by individuals who have thru-hiked themselves, is a nostalgic attempt to re-capture a bit of that magic.

Oh by the way, we went through the 1000 MILE point just a bit earlier today:


3 thoughts on “Fire Flies and Roller Coaster Threats – 11 June

  1. Love REI! We couldn’t help ourselves when we were traveling around the US!
    And love your perspective on trail magic from previous hikers – I’m interested to find out what you and Trevor are going to do with that when you’re all the way back here. Find the SA equivalent?


  2. And loved the mention of the fireflies. We had hundreds of them in West Virginia – just spectacular in the night time. Makes one feel really special.


  3. You do know that like millennials, your job will change after this? No moxxre trend/number analysis but people analysis/coach/writer! !

    Liked by 1 person

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