The Traveling Circus Comes to Town

Most of our posts are about local trails and day hiking. But today, we’re excited to bring you a “special edition” post.  We met a trio of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers online.  Lightning, Monkey and Ringleader, collectively known as The Traveling Circus, came off the trail and spent some time with us.

The Traveling Circus - Lightning, Monkey and Ringleader
The Traveling Circus – Lightning, Monkey and Ringleader.  Below: The group gets started on their 17 miles; everyone carried a nearly empty pack on this day; two more thru-hikers (Moose and Tetherball) took up our offer to offload gear.

The trio is hiking the AT and shooting a documentary along the way.  The film is going to focus primarily on the community and social aspects of the trail.  We can’t wait to see the finished project.  The hikers we’ve met are fascinating, so an entire documentary about the people should be quite compelling.

During their visit, there was lots of food and fun conversation.  They all got to take hot showers, do some laundry, check the internet, and sleep in a bed.  We even had time to watch a movie.  Christine made a big breakfast before driving them back up to the trail.

We offered to hold onto their heavy gear for the day and meet them at Big Meadows later in the evening.  When we dropped them off in the morning, they ran into a couple AT friends.  We ended up stowing their gear for the day, too.  I’ve never seen hikers look happier.  One exclaimed that he felt like he could fly without his pack.

When we met them near Big Meadows in the afternoon, they arrived right on time.  It’s amazing that they can hike 17 miles, and predict within a few minutes when they’ll arrive at a given spot.  Most people aren’t that punctual with watches, cellphones and cars.  Apparently, after three months of hiking, you get pretty good at gauging your speed. All five hikers said they had a beautiful day of hiking – great weather and pretty scenery.

We made it to the Big Meadows Wayside in time for them to order the famous Shenandoah National Park blackberry milkshakes. We had a little time to chat with Moose and Tetherball (the thru-hikers we met when we dropped The Traveling Circus off).  They were both really nice and seemed to be loving every minute of their time on the trail.

We offered everyone a ride a little further down the trail, but they decided to walk their miles.  Moose  said “If you cheat the trail, she’ll make you pay for it later!”

Kate (Ringleader), Brandon (Monkey) and Emily (Lightning) are such nice people – they smile and laugh constantly. They were full of great stories and tales about what hiking the AT is really like.  They were all so fit and strong and had positive outlooks, even after months on the trail.  We have no doubt they’ll be climbing Katahdin in a few months.

6 thoughts on “The Traveling Circus Comes to Town

  1. Chris Distler

    Hey again!

    We called that outfitter in DWG to make sure that it was still open, and it turns out they only hold packages if they’re from UPS or fedex. So hopefully you haven’t sent anything there yet haha, and here’s the address to the post office in town:

    Chris Distler
    C/O General Delivery
    Delaware Water Gap, PA 18327
    Please Hold for AT Thru-Hiker

    Sorry for the confusion and thanks again!


  2. Chris Distler

    Hey Christine and Adam!

    Thank you guys again for the awesome day you helped us have in the Shenandoahs! We’re now in Boiling Springs, PA and going strong. Unfortunately, we separated from the Traveling Circus the day after we saw you guys, but we’re hoping to run into them soon. They’re definitely a fun bunch to hike with.

    As far as a mail drop, we’d be SO appreciative of anything you guys can send! We were thinking in Delaware Water Gap, perhaps as a celebratory hiking-out-of-Pennsylvania treat haha. Our blog says we’ll be there the 19th, but we may be there as early as the 15th. I hope that gives you enough time. There’s an outfitter there that holds packages for thru-hikers:
    Edge of the Woods Outfitters
    110 Main St.
    Delaware Water Gap, PA 18327

    Thank you guys so much, and we’ll definitely keep you updated on our travels!

    Tetherball & Moose


    • virginiatrailsadam

      Hey Tetherball and Moose! We’ll be glad to send something along and get that out to you. We’ve enjoyed reading the blog, so count this as another “blog success story” as Moose put it when we met up. We may be up in NH when you both are, so maybe we’ll come across you again during your final stretch. As I told Monkey, now that you’re halfway done, just think of your hike as it being all downhill from here.

      Happy Trails!


  3. Jim Hopkins

    That was a fun little post to read. Sounds like you had a good time with your new hiker friends, and they got a nice respite from the rigours of the trail!


    • virginiatrailsadam

      Thanks Jim! It was great to get a personal glimpse of life on the trail through their eyes. Talking with them was an inspiration and helps us feel more confident that we could at least do some section hiking of the trail.


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