The past few days have brought some significant milestones in these early days of my AT thruhike. I’ve crossed my first state line; taken in expansive views from high points like Blood Mountain, Standing Indian Mountain, and Mt. Albert; and passed the 100 mile point from the trail terminus at Springer Mountain. I’ve hiked on beautiful spring days and hunkered down in a trailside shelter to avoid a major rainstorm.
Now that we’ve been on the trail for over a week, my fellow thruhikers are starting to feel comfortable introducing themselves by their trail names in place of their real-world monikers. I’ve chatted in recent days with Zen, Down Dog, Mama Bear, Cornflake, Osprey, Yellow Beard, and Viva.
I started my hike with a proposed trail name of Artemisia, given to me in a bar in Pennsylvania as a reference to the geyser in Yellowstone, but while it was pretty, it didn’t feel right.
So I was positively delighted today when I was given my trail name by another hiker, a speedster who passed me at a rapid clip. I caught up with him twenty minutes later while he was stopped, adjusting his pack. He soon got out ahead of me again … but again, I caught up before long.
After several iterations of this, I came up behind him and he said, “Here we go again, the tortoise and the hare!”
While he went jackrabbiting off down the trail, I thought about myself as the tortoise. Slow and steady? Yup, I like the sound of that; I get passed a lot on the trail in the mornings but somehow end up covering more ground than many other hikers by nightfall.
Like the tortoise, I carry my home on my back.
And I’m pretty sure that if you rolled me onto my back while I had my pack on, I wouldn’t be able to get up again.
And so, just like that, today I became Tortoise.