I’m at that point in this hike when dayhikers look and smell like a different species.
I saw a couple of day hikers from a distance today, and I found myself admiring their clean skin, soft hair, and cotton clothes. As they walked past, I was overwhelmed by the smells of dryer sheets, deodorant, mouthwash, and body lotion.
Somehow, on a thru-hike, one’s senses and stimulation thresholds seem to change dramatically. Eating the same foods for months on end means that anything different is quite the surprise. Hearing only natural noises makes a hiker completely unprepared for the sensory onslaught that is a large grocery store or Walmart. And, smelling dirt, trees, water, and grass — and distinctly human-smelling people — means that chance encounters with the dryer sheet subspecies are bizarre.
Being able to live part of my life with each subspecies makes me feel a bit amphibious.