Day 27: Winter Weather and Drunk Canadians

More Pilaging

I didn’t sleep as well as I hoped for. I couldn’t find my earbuds and resigned myself to hearing the full volume of Fine Young Buck’s snoring. I made it to 3:00 a.m. before I had to find them. I did. Well under the bed. The predicted severe weather wasn’t bad – or so I was told. I was out of it. Weird, since I didn’t sleep great. There was heavy rain, but that was about it.

I automatically woke up at 7:30 and forced myself to sleep. I made it to 8:00. I started shifting in my bed and Fine Young Buck asked, “You want to head to breakfast?” I groaned and mustered a ‘sure’. It took me a minute to get up. I was already planning on a nap later in the day.

As like yesterday, it was everyone but DunkAroo who headed down. I asked if anyone wanted a waffle, and both said yes. I stood at the counter and made them. Breakfast was a shorter affair than yesterday. It got busy. I, of course, grabbed more oatmeal and peanut butter for a five-day resupply. I also snagged two heatable breakfast sandwiches to go. It was too busy there and figured I’d heat them up in the room.

Sweeper Did Swippy

Fine Young Buck and I headed back. Sweeper stayed behind, but not for long. I went to the bathroom after I arrived, and I got out to see Sweeper there. I opened the fridge and found the bottom shelf full of breakfast sandwiches. I stood there, mouth gaping. I made eye contact with Sweeper and asked, “Did you do this?” In a shy way, he said, “I did.” I grinned and replied, “I’m so proud of you.” And I was. He has started to accept the process of being hiker trash.

Journey to Pigeon Forge

I asked if anyone wanted to take a trip to Pigeon Forge, and Fine Young Buck said sure. He had to be back by 4:00, though. We walked the mile to the transit center and waited for the purple line trolley to take us to the Gatlinburg Visitor Center. We waited. And waited. The arrival board was saying 1 minute for 45 minutes. A barrage of trolleys finally showed up.

The ride was short, and we quickly arrived at the visitor center. The connecting trolley was 30 minutes out, so what did I do? I looked for stickers. I bought three. I couldn’t help myself. As we waited, Fine Young Buck and I got into a very animated conversation about pooping positions. We acted them out. We had an audience of thirty people. Fine Young Buck created a new one – at least to me. It’s called ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do.’ It entails holding onto a branch (not a low lying one either) and positioning your feet so your cheeks are spread. We were dying with laughter. Poop talk is so natural amongst hikers.

The trip on the trolley to Pigeon Forge was very short. It cost a dollar. At the transit center there, the trolley we needed was already there. It was another dollar. We were the only ones on the trolley and less than ten minutes later, we were outside the doors of the thrift store I was eyeballing on Google. I found a nice pair of running shorts and a pair of quick drying leggings. There wasn’t a changing room, so I could only hope they fit. It didn’t matter much – each article was three dollars.

Fine Young Buck posing in an interesting thrift store find.

Good Subs

Upon exiting, we headed to a sub shop nearby. It was local and they made their own bread. There was a twenty-minute wait, but we weren’t in any rush. Fine Young Buck insisted on paying for my meal, which was appreciated, but unnecessary. I said I’d pay for his next meal, but he said no. We sat outside and had a deep conversation about religion. Our food arrived and we dug in. For the cheap price, we got homemade bread and a lot of meat. It was great.

The Hunt for a Sticker

We had one last thing to do. Well, I had one last thing to do. Any guesses? Yup, I needed a Pigeon Forge sticker. There was a line of promising stores on the other side of the street, and we checked them out. Nothing. My last resort was the REI near these stores. I had no idea there was an REI there. I burst through the doors, frantic in my need for a sticker. One of the workers was quick to ask if I needed help and my soul died when she said that they didn’t have a Pigeon Forge sticker. They did have a variety of specific locations located in the Great Smoky Mountains. I left that store with seven more stickers.

I have an addiction, I know. I was extremely sad not to have one for Pigeon Forge.

More Delays

Fine Young Buck and I headed to a bus stop and waited for the trolley. We waited twenty minutes before looking at when it was supposed to arrive. We had another forty minutes. We saw that the transit center was 1.7 miles away and decided fuck this. We walked back. And showed up at the same time as the trolley.

Drunk Canadians

The journey back to Gatlinburg was quick. We were with a group of six highly intoxicated Canadians. They were a hoot. One asked if we had been to Clingman’s Dome yet. We said, “Yes, we are thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.” One of the men went, “You don’t look crazy to me.” We explained that we were only about 200 miles into our journey and still had 2,000 more to go. The same guy said, elbowing his wife, “Honey, remember that trail we were following as we drove up to the dome? I said that those who hike up it are crazy to do so.” He gave us a pointed look. I replied, “Technically, we were headed down.”

Winter Weather

Once we got into Gatlinburg, it was a little past 4:00. Fine Young Buck needed to get on a Zoom call. He sped away and I walked to the hotel room alone. It was a long day. Public transportation is not fast. I read a bit.

It was during that time that I noticed we were under a winter weather advisory. Initially, the report was saying two to four inches, but increased to three to six. I went to AT Weather and the shelters up in the Smokies were looking at nearly a foot. Much more than the four inches predicted for yesterday.

Mexican Food and Dessert

By 6:00, I was ready to eat. Mexican food was sounding good. Once Fine Young Buck was finished with his call, he, DunkAroo, and I walked 0.8 miles to a cheapish Mexican restaurant. We made it just in time before it started pouring. We all got fajitas. And we all had leftovers for tomorrow. Both Fine Young Buck and DunkAroo had two beers. I’m not a beer person and this place didn’t have anything else, so I had water. Good thing I drank a little bottle of alcohol before going out.

Afterwards, ice cream was on the mind. Fine Young Buck was dead set on the Ben and Jerry’s shop, so we headed there. DunkAroo backed out and headed back to the room. I was looking at the prices and couldn’t justify spending that much on ice cream that I could just get at the store. When Fine Young Buck saw that I wasn’t getting anything, he said he didn’t need it either. I insisted he should since he was so excited for it. He didn’t get any. Instead, we slowly walked back to the hotel, discussing the pros and cons of female and male anatomy regarding the act of peeing. Obviously, we both needed to go and there weren’t any bathrooms around.

Once at the hotel, I took a shower and then had a nice conversation with Sweeper about Acadia National Park. I mentioned that I would like to work there. Sometime afterwards, I saw that the Newfound Gap Road was closed. None of us knew when it would reopen. We were officially stuck here. It was getting late, though, so we turned off the lights and headed to bed. The sound of rain lured us to sleep.

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