It took two hops to leave the southern Appalachians behind and continue north. Our friends Sally and Johnny got us to Damascus to pick up our maildrop after picking us up just past Big Hump Mountain. They’d parked in front of Mt. Rogers Outfitters, where Gutsy was hanging out. We moved our packs to the back of her pickup.
John drove the long miles along I-81 through Virginia – a month’s worth of hiking, 5 hours by interstate – in the pouring rain most of the way. We had to wrap everything in garbage bags, and the truck bed still looked like a pool in the morning.
En route to Harpers Ferry that day, he spotted a stack of used truck toppers along a rural highway. “Isn’t that what you’ve been looking for?” he asked Gutsy. “Should we turn around?”
Within an hour, Gutsy’s truck became a camper, the topper protecting the mound of gear and hinting at a new future for our traveling friend. “I can camp anywhere now!” she said, and on her way home, enjoyed that newfound freedom of needing neither motel room nor tent nor AT shelter for a good night’s sleep.