Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail: Chapter 19

Day 120, Damascus, Virginia

He propped up his hips and slid the pants over his thighs, then buttoned the waist and yanked up the zipper before he fell back down to the warm grass. I craned my neck around the corner of the building, making sure no one could see him. “I can’t think of a good time to get naked and change your clothes behind a post office,” I commented.

“Well,” Ben said. “Maybe the federal government, in its infinite wisdom, could have engineered a bathroom in the lobby. Anyway, Dad said him and Uncle Paul could meet us at Neels Gap on November twenty-eighth, which gives us thirty days to cover four hundred and thirty miles.” He paused. “That’s like a fourteen, fifteen mile-a-day average.”

Another rigid deadline. I took a deep breath. “Can we still hang out here for a couple days?”

“Yeah, of course.”

That’s all I cared about.

Still keeping lookout, I watched Dylan amble down the post office staircase, then turn our direction. He sat beside Ben and said, “Got the new sleeping bag from home, and”—he held up another, smaller box in front of his face—“I got a package from some guy named Leland Ash. Not familiar with the name, but I got a friend from the city marked on the address.” I loved the unanticipated excitement of town days.

N. B. Hankes

N. B. Hankes

Founder and best selling author of "Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail."
Humboldt County, California