Day 3: Trail Names and Roadkill

Nighttime Struggles

The night was one of the worst yet. It wasn’t that it was too chilly, it was that my ‘seasonal allergies’ were becoming a cold. I felt so bad for the other people in the shelter because I was constantly sneezing, coughing, and blowing my nose. I was just glad that my parents were picking me up at Gooch Gap so I could get some medication to help with whatever I had.

With the time change, the sun rose later, and I know that several of us in the shelter were just waiting for it to rise so we could too. There were a few who had pitched their tents leaving at around 5:30 and I watched them with envy. I’m not quite at the level to start hiking in the dark.

When the sun did rise, I was the first of the shelter people to leave and was out of camp by 8:15. The temperature was hovering around 28 degrees with wind gusts upwards of 40 miles per hour. None of that mattered because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I got to see the sun rise over the Northern Georgia mountains. I was stoked. It was going to be a good day.

The first clear view of the entire journey. This was on the way up Sassafras Mountain.

The Trail

Despite all the rain, the cold temperatures frozen the mud and the ground was mostly solid. I spent much of the morning going as slow as I wanted. It was peaceful. Two miles in, I was reaching Horse Gap and had to stop and check my map to make sure I was on the right path. Yup, I am. The trail is just a legit drainage ditch. That was the steepest I had seen yet. At least I was going down.

The day was pretty uneventful. I spent most of it alone and just enjoyed the sun. I stopped at Justus Creek – the first water source in six miles – and ate lunch and refilled water. If I didn’t have a destination, Justus Creek would have been a nice place to stop for the day.

The sign right before Justus Creek. I guess the sign was cooler than the creek since this was the only picture I took of the area.

Gooch Gap and Trail Names

By the time I made it to Gooch Gap, I still had two hours before my parents were expected to arrive. Holly, a weekend hiker, Shane, a thru-hiker, and Alan, Shane’s friend who joined for a short while, were sitting around waiting for the four o’ clock shuttle. We spent the majority of the time trying to figure out different trail names for each of us. Alan already had his. He started going by Cosplay on day one because everyone assumed he was a thru-hiker, but when they found out, he was just ‘cosplaying’ as one. Holly didn’t get an official one, but I suggested Jane Austin because she is going to school majoring in English and plans to become a writer.

A few were thrown around for me. ‘Captain’ was the first one because my name’s Morgan and obviously Captain Morgan goes together. The sound of the name is respectable, but there is no story to it. I suggested ‘Lost’. Not because my sense of direction is terrible, but because the first night, I kept saying, “I can’t find my __________.” Or “Has anybody seen ___________?” By the second night, someone asked, “Do these gloves belong to anyone?” and Joey, a thru-hiker who has been stopping at the same shelters I have, said with confidence, “Oh, those are definitely Morgan’s.” They weren’t. The name isn’t quite official, but when we were figuring out trail names, I did have to ask, “Where are my gloves?”

The Origin of Uncle Iroh

After discussing trail names, Shane asked if any of us wanted tea. All of us were like “hell yeah” and he asked what kind we’d like. “I’ve got an herbal tea, a green tea, jasmine, and black.” We decided on an herbal tea, and he pulls out a large bag filled with loose leaf tea. He then proceeds to pull out a miniature tea set with its own case and everything. Holly and I were in shock.

From left to right: Holly, Shane (Uncle Iroh), and Alan (Cosplay). At Gooch Gap waiting for a ride.

Shane then says, “I always thought my trail name would be Uncle Iroh.” If you don’t know, Uncle Iroh is a character off Avatar: The Last Airbender. I immediately respond back with, “Dude, you just sealed your fate.” “Why? Because I’m old and I like tea?” “No, you highly value tea if you are willing to carry a tea set for over 2,000 miles and your sun hat kind of looks like Uncle Iroh’s.” Shane then quotes Iroh in his voice as he poured tea into each of our cups. Thus, Uncle Iroh was born, and Shane no longer exists.

Roadkill Mystery Meat

By the time my parents arrived, Holly and Cosplay were gone. Uncle Iroh stuck around, but started to head to camp for the night once I got into the car. It was nice to see my parents and Abby (the dog) and soon after, we were on our way to the Airbnb. We stopped at a gas station and I saw a gorgeous looking slice of pizza that I know has been sitting there since that morning. I don’t even know what the flavor was; I’ll just call it mystery meat.

And of course, I can’t forget the loving comments from my parents. “You smell like roadkill that hasn’t quite died, but has been decaying for a few days. Put it out of its misery! Keep your armpits down!” “They are down!”

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Comments 4

  • Jean M Collier : Mar 12th

    I’m excited to read your entries. Good luck, be safe and make beautiful memories.

  • Wendy McLellan : Mar 13th

    Really interesting updates. For anyone who experiences seasonal allergies I would recommend barrier sprays. They work quickly and effectively and can be purchased over the counter from any good pharmacy. I have been using them for about ten years and they changed my life from dreading the first grass cutting of the year to embracing every season. Good luck guys. Happy wandering.
    Wendy McLellan

  • Joni Deters : Mar 13th

    Good job! I’m keeping track of your adventures and thinking now I should have sent you elderberry tea as well!

  • Justin “Iroh” dieter : Mar 26th

    This entry made me smile. Someone else who has the same trail name as me! Although I dropped the uncle part and just went with Iroh. I was the only one who could get a fire started in the smokies after days of rain and some named me after the dragon of the west! Tell shane I’m rootin’ for him as well as you! Your writing is pleasant and down to earth to read.


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