We all hiked in around 1:00. It was scheduled to be held 2:00-7:00. When we arrived, there were about 20 lawn chairs arranged in a circle around many dutch ovens, several large tables, and three ladies all busy cooking. The tables were covered with chips and dips and candy and cookies, and there were coolers full of drinks, with cases of drinks close by, waiting to be chilled. The lady in the middle asked if we wanted a made-to-order quesadilla as we walked up. Of course, everyone wanted one, and one by one, she made everyone a custom-made quesadilla if they wanted it. In the largest dutch oven, they had a large lasagna cooking. In others, they had homemade rolls, brocolli and cauliflower with cheese sauce, curried chicken, mississippi mud cake, apple cobbler, and eggrolls with peanut sauce. These ladies could not only cook -- they could cook in dutch ovens! Awesome! They also had some wonderful coleslaw made with fresh walnuts and mandarin oranges. We ate until we were stuffed. Everyone enjoyed the wonderful food and getting to visit with everyone else in such a fun setting. These ladies had even brought a notebookbook, and if you did not have a cell signal, you could write down your name and your mom's name and number, and that evening, they would call your mom and wish her a happy Mother's Day for you. They had thought of everything!
Two of the ladies had thru-hiked the trail before (Lizard and Signage) and the third lady was a lady that they had taught with for many years. This was the eighth year they had done this. One of the ladies explained why they did it. She said that they thought that what we were all doing was incredible, that anytime you step out of your comfort zone and take on such an awesome journey, that you could not help but be changed by it, and that when we go home, we would take those changes back to our lives, and one by one, were helping to change the world to be a better place. It was really, an inspiring, beautiful speech, and I couldnt help but get a bit teary-eyed
Before we left, we met Bernie the whittler. He was an older man who was helping his wife, Mary, and her sister, both in their 80's, to finish the trail. They had stated section-hiking it together about 13 years ago. He would drop them off at a road crossing in the morning, and then wait at the next road crossing, whittling these cute little stickmen dolls while he waited. He gave them away to all of the hikers. We all got one! I met his wife and her sister when they hiked into camp and joined the Hiker Feed. They were pretty inspirational! I hope they make it to Katahdin, and I have no doubt that they will!
We hiked on from the Hiker Feed and immediately climbed up, up, up, eventually reaching the next ridge line and Audie Murphy's Memorial. He was the most decorated hero of World War II. There was a nice memorial, but also a really cool hiker's shrine. The hikers have left stones in his honor, building little cairns all around the Memorial. We added to the shrine. We also picked up another hiker at the Feed,Old Goose, who was now hiking with us. He was from Chicago. We were about to leave the trail for a few days, and now it looked like Swamprat had someone to hike with, because Old Goose's wife was arriving to slackpack him for 5 days. He was also getting new shoes, and Swamprat was wanting new shoes too. Perfect!
We hiked on down to a road crossing to camp for the night, and pitched the tent just in time for rain to begin. Other hikers arrived from the Hiker's Feed that evening also. We ended up camping with All Smiles, Wiffle Ball, Hawk, Polaris, Old Goose, and one other, whose name escapes me right now. It rained ALL night! We found out later that all of the other hikers at the Feed ended up camping there - I'm sure they were hoping for leftovers.
We camped at mile 688.8, VA 620, and Trout Creek footbridge.
I almost forgot Stick Man!