In early December 2020, my phone buzzed with a message. Someone replied to my suggestion of "maybe going on a scocially-distanced hike" (sic) from months earlier. That weekend, the weather seemed nice, and the arbitrarily chosen meeting point was (for once) closer to me than to my friends.
This would be first day hike on the Appalachian trail, one of the most important hiking routes in the United States.
My company would be the inimitable Nik and Andrew, former colleagues. Both of them are connoisseurs of fruit-essenced sparkling water, experts at making strange faces, and brilliant at pointing at things. Andrew's special skill is consuming vittles.