Nemo was able to be delivered back to us on trail near the Partnership Shelter in VA, more help from my Sister Nicole. (Really can’t thank you enough Sis.) He had spent a couple weeks back home, losing his trail legs and getting hit by cars. (but really though…) it was great to have him back and we, being Smokes, Rescue, Iron Man, Eddy, Nemo and I got Pizza from town to celebrate. (Partnership Shelter is one of a few shelters on the AT that is just off the road and within delivery range of a pizza place.) We took a short day afterwards and camped out behind the Bàarn, Eddy went on for the night with the Hiking Vikings. I had 2x of the Barn in Atkins’ one pound hiker burgers with chilli added for lunch, (to Rescue’s 1x without) and then we got burritos across the street. Later, while being hiker trash behind the barn watching Harold and Kumar on Smokes’ tablet, we received 3 grocery bags of food from a Little Debbie Trucker. I had atleast 3000 calories for breakfast the next morning, mostly frosted pies and those peanut butter and chocolate wafers.
It was great having Nemo back, although he had some trouble with his knees and keeping up with the pace we’d built up to in his absence. Smoke Rescue and I slowed down to match him, although Ironman leapfrogged with us for a while of this. A hiker going by the name Little Debbie caught up to us, he was outpacing us so we only spent one night with him. He would sign his name as feminine he could, showy script and little xoxos, his hope was that someone would try pink blazing for him, only to find out he was another dirty hippy boy. I doubt it ever happened, given how fast he was going, anyone who wanted to would have some serious catch up to play. We took a night at Dismal Falls and had a weird time, later hearing that some kinda drug bust happened a stones throw away. Rescue was pretty put off by how enthusiastic about swimming in the cold cold water Nemo was. Around this point the frame of Smokes’ pack broke, he was able to get a new one on warranty, only to have that one break within a few days. It ended up aright but it was super inconvenient.
Around this time while we were leapfrogging, Ironman started to practice some trail sorcery. He’d grown up and gone to school nearby and was able to call in his friends and family for some DIY trail magic. The Fellowship benefitted from this a few times, but as they became more surprising we would set up in a shelter, only to have him come in later having arranged a pick up a few more miles down trail. Rescue started to get jealous as Ironman started developing a lead on us and we found evidence of his trail magic left in registers, occasionally jokingly referring to him as Boromir in continuance of our referencing Lord of the Rings.
Our final member of the Fellowship came to us on the heels of Little Debbie, and brought to us by an older hiker on his way to a triple crown. Medicine Man, named such because he entered med school soon after his hike. He was delivered by Sycamore, who dropped in with Medicine Man, gave Nemo some sage advice and left him stunned for the better part of a day before departing without a word to any of us near Four-Pines Hostel. Medicine Man however stayed on with us until the breaking of the Fellowship at Harper’s Ferry.