I had a weird dream last night so I thought I’d share it. I was on my next practice hike and somehow I had started from Springer Mountain in Georgia. Springer Mountain is where the AT begins in the south. I think my goal was to get a good idea of what the Georgia mountains are going to be like because everyone says they are a rough way to start the trail (there is debate about whether the mountains are actually tough or people are just not yet in trail shape. Southbounders, those who start in Maine, say the Ga mountains are nothing special). I’m not sure how I got to Springer to start, but evidently my wife dropped me off there for the weekend hike. For some reason I also let her pack my gear. Maybe you can see where this is going.
First, every backpacker knows that the most important piece of gear is your shoes. You can’t walk 2200 miles with bad shoes. Flip flops are bad shoes. In this dream I was wearing flip flops. I don’t remember starting the trail in the dream so I don’t know what the thinking was there. Maybe it was something along the lines of “Well, we forgot my hiking shoes but we drove all the way to Ga, might as well make the most of it with what I have.” I remember actually thinking maybe I could get someone to mail them to me.
After a few miles in flip flops I started to get a blister. Luckily there was a shelter there and I could hear people so I decided to stop. There was a big group of people doing trail magic. I don’t know if I’ve explained trail magic yet. The idea of trail magic stems from the idea that something good always happens when you most need it – someone offering a ride, or giving you a place to stay, or leaving some extra food they didn’t need for you. Over the years, this has grown from a coincidental thing into something people plan. People associated with the trail (former thru-hikers, weekend hikers, friendly people, etc) sometimes come out to the trail and spend a day giving out food, or putting sodas and beers in a cold stream for the hiker who happens to pass by, or doing other random acts of kindness. I’ll be talking more about trail magic in my post about my second practice hike, but in my dream it took the form of a large group doing a cookout at the shelter with hot dogs, burgers, etc. Now trail magic of this sort is usually meant for thru-hikers, although people sometimes offer it to weekend hikers as well. In my dream I didn’t want to take any food because I wasn’t a thru-hiker yet.
I’m not sure what happened next, but somehow I got around to opening my pack to see what other gear I had. Maybe I wanted to see if I had switched my hiking shoes and my flip flops, such that my hiking shoes were in my pack. I did happen to have my tent and sleeping bag, but no hiking shoes were to be found. Instead, for some reason I had 3 other pairs of flip-flops in my bag. I’m not sure what other gear I had or didn’t have, but as I was sifting through it all the trail magic group started packing up to leave. On their way out they asked if anybody needed anything else. I shouted “I need boots!” One of the men came over to me to try to help and looked through a bag to see what else he could find. What do you think he pulled out? That’s right, another pair of flip flops. Luckily that wasn’t all he had though! He also had a pair of sandals with the velcro straps – this would at least be better than the flip flops. He also had a pair of these – perhaps not the best option for hiking in. I’m not sure which footwear I chose because that’s about the time I woke up.
I don’t remember my dreams very often, so this one was a treat. I wonder how many other backpacking dreams I’ve had? It’s impossible to tell, but I’m guessing as March gets closer I’ll be having more dreams like this. Luckily real-life shouldn’t play out this way – I’ve done practice hikes so I know what gear I need and what I don’t need, and I have a gear checklist to make sure I don’t leave anything important. So mom, you can stop worrying 😉