I have been named! I officially have a trail name (drum roll please)....
Redcap the Just!
It was initially just Redcap, but I've since seen fit to alter it slightly due to circumstances I'll explain below (and also because it makes me sound kind of like a super hero or a knight, and that's just cool).
For those who don't know the hiking culture (which is most people, don't feel out of the loop) on a lot of long distance treks hikers acquire a trail name for easy identification and memorization, and fun of course. A lot of names come from events or things that happen along the trail, or from descriptive traits or details.
Several days back a hiker shared a campsite with me and asked about my hat, which I'd tossed onto a picnic table. It's a beat up, shabby old hat that I've worn for years and have become kind of sentimentally attached to. He asked about it because the brim has writing in it. I told him I started wearing the hat as a means of easy identification in LA because I was often hiking with people I didn't know, so I'd say "I'll meet you at the trailhead, I'll be wearing a red cap." Over time I just kept wearing it, and even started keeping track of the hikes I took it on, eventually writing the names and dates in the brim. At this point the brim is full and the hat is almost falling apart, so I had already decided this trip would be the end of the red cap's long career. The final tally in the brim if you will.
Well after I'd explained the cap's story, the hiker said I should be called "Redcap." Which struck me as... well, not particularly creative haha, but remarkably fitting given the history of the hat. So I accepted the name and proudly called myself Redcap! This lasted for maybe 24 hours, at which point I got data reception and decided to google "red cap" because you never know....
Apparently, in English folklore, "redcaps" are murderous goblins who kill unsuspecting travelers.
So... you know... there's that.
As such, I've taken the liberty of amending my own name! I am Redcap the Just! Because I might be a murderous goblin, but by golly I'm a fair murderous goblin.
Now that the name is sorted and there's no confusion over my murderous intentions, let's talk about the hike! I've just come through an area called the Roan Highlands and I have to say it's easily one of the prettiest places I've ever backpacked.
Really gorgeous views from the tops of several bald mountains that look out over both North Carolina and Tennessee, with plenty of wildflowers still in bloom.
And here's the view from Roan High Bluff, an exposed cliff face near Roan High Knob, one of the highest points on the AT. The bluff is down a side trial that adds about 2.5 miles to the day but it was worth the view.
The higher I go in elevation the prettier the views, but the foggier the mornings seem to get as well. In order to still get the sights I've been sleeping in (such a hardship) and delaying my starts to give the sun time to burn the fog off before I hit the high points. It means I'm still hiking in thick fog for the first hour or two, but usually have a clear view by midday, and, while eerie, the fog also has its own sort of appeal. It's kind of cool to wander through a meddow and watch as trees and shrubs slowly materialize in the distance.
The trail is so well marked it's almost impossible to lose, regardless of how thick the fog might get. Since that takes most of the worry out of it I've really had fun taking photos.
When you get into the trees it almost has the feel of a purposefully designed stage or movie set. Especially with the way sound is muffled by the forest and all the moisture in the air. I mean tell me you can't see this in a film:
Though much of the hike has still been very remote and pretty devoid of other hikers a section of the Roan Highlands is accessible by car and I ran into a day hiker who was kind enough to snap a photo for me. Proof that I'm still alive and well and these photos didn't just come from a Google search:
Along with the views so far, I've seen three snakes and one bear. Which means I've probably walked past another 100 snakes and several bears I didn't even notice. They remain far more terrified of me than the other way around, and a bit of noise sends them all off, but I won't deny the bear gave me a bit of a start. I mean, it is a bear after all. And I'm not ashamed to admit that for the next mile I banged my stick on every rock I could reach and whistled loudly and off key (loudly to make sure they heard me, off key because I just can't whistle for shit) to be certain I scared off any others that might have been around.
Otherwise the hike has been fairly uneventful, but enjoyable. I'm resting up in a hiker hostel today and eating my weight in pizza, so life is grand! Pizza solves all. Pizza is life.
Redcap the Just, out.