Bruce and I are a day and a half into our walk in the woods. Bruce’s brother picked us up at the airport in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the next day he and his wife delivered us to a parking area a mile from the summit of Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail (AT).
We are walking through a southern mixed forest of elm, hickory and oak trees, with the odd conifer to justify the characterization as “mixed”. There are large areas of native rhododendrons, which are reputedly beautiful in the spring.
The temperature is perfect for hiking, varying between perhaps 14 and 24 degrees today. It is the dry season, but “dry” in this area is much more moist than a summer in Victoria. The remnants of Hurricane Irma roared through here a few weeks ago, leaving noticeable damage in its wake. However, the trail crews have already been out and cleared the blown down trees on the trail.
There is a tradition of “trail names” on the AT. Today we met an experienced hiker and I asked him about his trail name. He said it is “Wet Dog,” and provided the following explanation of its genesis. “I’m a military brat, and in the vocabulary of the military feet are ‘dogs’. I like to take my boots off and soak my feet in a stream while I am getting water. I think the cool water is good for your feet when you are walking. This led to being called ‘Wet Dogs,’ which I shortened to ‘Wet Dog’.” He has certainly earned the right to a trail name, as Wet Dog has walked the entire AT 3 times. He has also walked the longer Pacific Crest Trail twice.