Or maybe I merely overheard them bickering about their unequal pack weights, and generally cursing the capricious juggling act of—and inverse relationship between—mobility and preparedness. And not that I was eavesdropping, but there was one detail of their conversation that particularly piqued my interest. Apparently some family and friends were driving in from Maine to meet them at a road crossing, to bring them a (seemingly unnecessary) resupply. It didn't take an extraordinary leap of logic to extrapolate from this tidbit that there might be an impromptu picnic involved.
And there was.
After reaching the parking lot by VT 103, the two Long Trailers took a seat to await their friends. Feigning exhaustion and hunger, I sat down some ten yards away and found something innocuous to do, just biding my time. Ten minutes later, a minivan pulled in carrying a jovial family of six, several coolers, a giant thermos of Kool Aid, and several boxes of goodies. Jackpot.
Of course, I played it cool at first, doing the polite thing of ignoring them completely. Until I caught someone saying something about "carrying too much weight" and "never make it to Burlington" and "death." At which point I magnanimously butted in to suggest that, maybe, if they carried less food, their packs would be considerably lighter, they could go further, and thus be able to resupply more often. And that the extra weight of added food really was a double edged sword.
Of course, the Long Trailers and their makeshift support team were blown away by this veritable Appalachian Trail thru-hiker sharing his hard-earned knowledge. Then they noticed my own food bag lying limply on the ground, my meager (but sufficient) supplies scattered haphazardly in a calculatedly pathetic display. With a barely suppressed glee, I watched their eyes fill with gratitude and sympathy, before they finally invited me to join their party.
Later, after arriving at the (surprisingly well-maintained) shelter and collecting a trail magic soda from the nearby creek, I wrote the following in the log:
Dear Long Trailers, Section Hikers, and Overnighters,
I've seen and hear you getting a lot of grief from my fellow hru-hikers, both in person and in these here registers. You've been called "ignorant" "morons," you've been accused of waking up at 5:30 AM and banging pots and pans together "like it's fucking Mardi Gras," you may have even had your food bags mistaken for trail magic and/or had someone to threaten to take a shit in your sleeping bag. Well, I'm here to put a stop to all that.
I love you guys.
Truly, I do. When I stumbled across the Vermont border, feeling lazy and lethargic at the end of a measly 14 mile day, all you newbie LTers were there to pick me right up. You made me feel fantastic by being so impressed with my mileage, comparing it to your own 7 mile days. Suddenly, I didn't feel lazy anymore. I mean, not that y'all are. But you remind me of how far I've come since I started. And not only that, but you're generally good-hearted, generous, well-intentioned people.
Special shout out to Detour and Dribble for the fantastic trail magic. A big, all caps THANK YOU for sharing your picnic and resupply with me. You guys are awesome. Enjoy the trail!