By summer, the hiker was in Virginia, where he walked about a hundred miles with a 66-year-old woman who went by the trail name Obsidian. She taught him how to make a fire, and he told her he was eager to see a bear. On December 1, Mostly Harmless had made it to northern Georgia, where he stopped in a store called Mountain Crossings. A veteran hiker named Matt Mason was working that day, and the two men started talking. Mostly Harmless said that he wanted to figure out a path down to the Florida Keys. Mason told him about a route and a map he could download to his phone. “I don’t have a phone,” Mostly Harmless replied. Describing the moment, Mason remembers thinking, “Oh, this guy’s awesome.” Everyone who goes into the woods is trying to get away from something. But few people have the commitment to cut their digital lifelines as they put on their boots.Mason printed the 60 pages of the map and sold it to Mostly Harmless for $5 cash, which the hiker pulled from a wad of bills that Mason remembers being an inch thick. Mason loves hikers who are a little bit different, a little bit strange. He asked Mostly Harmless if he could take a picture. Mostly Harmless hesitated but then agreed. He then left the shop and went on his way. Two weeks later, Mason heard from a friend in Alabama who had seen Mostly Harmless hiking through a snowstorm. “He was out there with a smile on his face, walking south,” Mason recalls.
By the last week of January, he was in northern Florida, walking on the side of Highway 90, when a woman named Kelly Fairbanks pulled over to say hello. Fairbanks is what is known as a “trail angel,” someone who helps out through-hikers who pass near her, giving them food and access to a shower if they want. She was out looking for a different hiker when she saw Mostly Harmless. She pulled over, and they started to chat. He said that he had started in New York and was heading down to Key West. She asked if he was using the Florida Trail App, and he responded that he didn’t have a phone.
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