October 11, 2017
We first met Grey Beard in Virginia. He is an 82 year old hiker with a goal to set the age record for a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Over the course of the last 2,000 miles, we have met him several times. He always has a smile and time to stop and talk. He taught us to recognize chestnut trees during one chat. Another day, he gave us his philosophy of life, distilled into one sentence, “Do something you love and be happy.”
This afternoon, just after we crossed a road, we saw a hiker approaching.
“Hey, how’s it going? Isn’t it a beautiful day?” Grey Beard greeted us with a wide smile.
“Wow! It’s great to see you!” I exclaimed. “It’s been a while. How is your hike going?”
“I’ve been doing a lot of slack packing. I made a date to finish the trail by October 26, which means I’ve got to get a move on. Yesterday I hiked 19 miles,” Grey Beard replied.
“Nineteen miles! That’s impressive! We only hiked 13 miles yesterday,” Jay laughed.
Grey Beard grinned and said, “You probably had more fun, though. I’m putting in long hours with this deadline looming.”
As we chatted, it began to rain. Grey Beard looked at the sky, then looked at his watch. “The weather forecast said the rain would come about now. I started hiking at 5:00 a.m., thinking I might finish before the rain. Did you see my van as you crossed that last road? I’ll be staying at a friend’s house tonight.”