Lets see where was I.... Oh yeah, It was Sunday June 7th, the phone rang, it was the Nimblewill Nomad. He said he would be leaving Kalkaska at 8:30 a.m. and hiking towards Kingsley. He thought he would be to the Cedar Creek trailhead around 6:00 p.m. I took down his phone number and gave him my cell number and told him I would hike towards him. So off to church went my wife and my kids and I started hammering away at things I felt I needed to do before the Nomad came. The house was already prepared, as was his room thanks to my lovely wife. Everything was planned just in case he called. My wife even washed and lined dried the bedding he was to sleep on. The fact that it was Sunday was great because I didn't have to work. Anyway wife and kids off to church, me I went to the grocery store and bought some final items to add to our dinner fit for a through hiker.
My initial idea was to leave the Cedar Creek trailhead about 4:00 p.m. It ended up that I left the trailhead at 1:30p.m. because I was an absolute basket case and I could not control my feet any longer. I packed the usual and was going to meet him somewhere near Supply Rd. I had guessed. I waited for my wife to return and when she did I said I would return about 6:00 p.m. with the Nomad and she was going to have everything ready as far as dinner and things. So off I went north on the trail. I passed throught the Valley of the Giants and it was there that I told myself that I would have to make sure i did not side step the trail in fear of actually missing him by passing him by. So now I am calming myself and always looking for pole marks. I meet up with a couple of fellas on the trail just south of Sheck's Place and ask them if they had heard that the Nomad would be coming through this part of the trail today and I was very surprised when the had not even heard of him.
So I pass Sheck's Place and see no one at all. I was wanting to tell everyone the Nomad was coming. But I raced on. I call it raced because that was the pace I was keeping. Or at least it felt that way. About one and a half hours into it I forced myself to take a breather and sit for a few minutes. I had a quick snack and off I went. It was now that I was really starting to pay attention to the trail and the lack of footprints and pole marks. I knew that he hadn't come this far yet. It was now that I started to wonder if he was on schedule. I was near Dollar Lake and decided to call the Nomad's number and he answered and said he was sitting at the bench at Dollar Lake eating some trail magic left in a bag for him by Dick Naperala. My heart was now pounding. Believe it or not we were withing five minutes of each other. I continued towards him and I had no idea what I was going to say to him. I felt like a... I don't know what i felt like, all I know is that I had butterflies in my stomach and it felt like I was floating on the trail I was walking. Then it happened his first words, "you got yourself a nice set of poles there". I had to let him lead, there was no way he was going to walk in my footsteps. We had the best time walking back to my van. It was incredible. All those days and nights up thinking of this day. It was here and so was he.
We exchanged camera poses at the Boardman River near Sheck's Place. From there it was a short half-hour walk to the van. I had gone 12 miles and he had probably doubled that. I called my wife and said we would be there in a few minutes.
We arrived at our home and Jack needed to feel his beard. He met the family and got cleaned up before dinner. The house smelled like Thanksgiving Day. My wife had created an unbelievable feast for us. We had coffee and than before dinner our neighbors Betty and Phil Bowden came over and Betty presented Nomad with a Petoskey stone. Betty and Phil have walked the trail many a year from the start of it. Phil is 91. They are incredible people and we are the lucky ones to have them as neighbors. So they left and we sat down and Nomad said the blessing and we all ate big. We were in the presence of some awesome company. He retired to his room and caught up on his journals and needed to study his maps for the next leg of his hike. I had to work the next morning, but I was going to drop him off at the trail where we got to the van. To be continued....