Jake’s owner, whose name I’m embarrassed to admit I forgot, and I quickly shared our hiking experience from the previous two days and what laid ahead. We decided that the next morning we would ascend up to McAfee (Mick-æ-FEE) Knob together and get our photos taken at the iconic spot, but first we needed water and to figure out the sleeping arrangements. I was too tired to set up my tent, as was she, so we both agreed to sleep in the shelter. There is a rule of etiquette when hiking on the A.T.; usually it is first -come-first-serve when picking a camp spot for your tent or hammock. However, shelters are generally fair game and considered shared space. Since there were only two of us, there was plenty of room. The potentially awkward situation was the unspoken, yet obvious situation: I was a dude and she was a dudette. I am a nice guy, but “Nameless” didn’t know me from Adam. She could have felt unsafe and uncomfortable. This can be a concern for any woman, especially since more and more women are solo hiking. But she had Jake, and he provided enough safety for the both of us. We made dinner, set up our sleeping bags, and passed out.
After a deep night’s sleep I woke up refreshed and ready to go. “Nameless” woke up around the same time I did and we quickly ate breakfast, packed up, and headed out on the trail. We arrived at McAfee Knob a little after sunrise. It was absolutely stunning. I met a SOBO hiker from the Netherlands and he said something that struck me as profound. He said that he loved America’s landscape, the Netherlands don’t have what we have. This shocked me, as I have been to Amsterdam and the surrounding country. It is breathtaking. “It’s all man made,” he said. What we have in America is natural and rugged. His statement made me appreciate our country’s wilderness areas even more than I had before. He continued on and I embraced my “hesitation” of heights and sat on the edge of McAfee Knob and let my fee dangle hundreds of feet above the forest floor.
Read Solo Hike: Virginia Triple Crown: Pt. III to see what happened (Oooooohhhh! So suspenseful!)
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Hope From the Trail
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