Fire smell means I’m close. It is dark when I arrive at the stony Peter Grub Hut. That year I didn’t have a watch, didn’t realize I was getting on trail by 10 am, hiked a lot of miles in the night. I was watched by many green and yellow glowing eyes.
Inside a man adds wood to a fire, it looks like he’s been here for a couple days. He’s a tall, hiking in carhartts, big leather boots, low brow, speaks in a monotone, flips a knife in his hand like he’s waiting for the next victim. Here’s where I meet the psychopath killer I think, but I’m too tired to care, so I sit down at the long wooden table with him while he flips his knife.
There’s a book on the table. What are you reading? It’s a book about Buddhism, he’s carrying six hardback books about Buddhism, and glass jars of condiments. He was a marine and went to Iraq, thru-hiking the trail is helping him decompress. He shows me a picture of his girlfriend, but you can’t see her face, just her tits.
There are no airs about him, unlike a lot of the hikers I encounter that year. We become instant brute and fart buddies. At night in camp he won’t tell me about Iraq. So we gaze at the cosmos and wonder about things.