Making Miles, with Friends, Angels Along the Way
Yes, I’m still alive.
Well, it has been a while since I last wrote on here. I have Sprint, so legit I have no service. So a quick catchup on how things are going out here.
Many miles have passed, and I have met some incredible people. Gonna try and fill the gap a bit.
Day Four through 20 (miles 38 to 199.7)
I am now less than 2,000 miles from Maine.
1991.2. to be exact.
So much has happened these past three weeks. I have seen some amazing views and met some even more amazing people.
But ya, leaving the fam was tough. It sure was nice having a hiking partner, as well as Ma and Col there waiting at various spots. But I knew what I was getting into. First few days I battled some tough weather. Rain coming from every which way like in “Forrest Gump.” I was able to get into a groove of things; though camping alone, it helps having a routine.
Had my first hostel experience, and I want to give a huge shout-out to Maggie and Jim, a wonderful couple I met at the Hiawassee McDonald’s. They insisted on giving me a ride to the trail after I hitched into town and every hotel was booked. So Maggie, Jim, thank you again so much. Coffee is on me next time.
The hostel stay was quite interesting, but any chance you have to do laundry is a huge plus.
It wasn’t long after that I crossed my first state line. Easter was a big day for me; I did 16.7 miles, crossing over from Georgia to North Carolina.
I made my way into Franklin, N.C., on April 3 and got a room at the Budget Inn. Another shot at laundry and pizza; no complaints from me. This is where I met numerous hikers that I had previously been crossing paths with. Happy Feet and Giggles invited me to one of the breweries and that’s where it all began. More on those two wonderful souls later though.
I also had a wonderful visitor in trail angel form, thee Kara Smith. Great catching up with her, and she helped mucho with resupplying. It’s also nice having a friendly face near by. She also invited her friend (and now our friend) Jamie Beth, one of Franklin’s finest, to dinner. Jamie completed the AT two years ago, so it was great for us all to pick her brain. She also shuttled a number of us back to trail the next day. Thanks again.
The first week and a half I hadn’t hit any trail magic, which is obviously OK. I never hope for or expect to run into it, which makes doing so that much better. After a long day of hiking, I came across an awesome club that had set up a bunch of tents serving chili, hot dogs, homemade biscuits, candy, and pop. It was amazing. Perfect after a long day’s walk.
Following a good filling of warm grub, I went up the mountain to gorgeous views on Rocky Bald. Right as I was going to head down, clouds rolled in and it started pouring.
I ended up staying atop the bald, and was shortly joined by the Binghamton University Outdoors Club. Twenty or so students from the New York-based school and I were caught on top of the mountain during a torrential downpour. Had a heck of a time getting to know them all, and was really glad they joined me up there. Hope to see you all when I make my way to New York. Go Bearcats!
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Day 14 I made it to the NOC, where I was reunited with the tram: Gigs and Happy Feet along with Moonshine. We had been separated since Franklin and just couldn’t link up. But as I made it down the mountain, they were there and had a spare bunk for me. Couple of beers, laundry, and pizzas for HF and we were all in heaven. We then hit the trail together the next day.
This place was gorgeous. Eight miles straight uphill, huge elevation gain; definitely worth it, though.
We camped atop the bald, because, why not, ay?
After the bald, we headed down and that is where we met my brother, Patrick, and trail angel Kara again. They greeted us with fresh fruit, pizza, snacks, and hiker currency, PBR. It was so great after a wet and cold night on the bald. Patrick had just finished a Duathalon (qualifying for worlds by the way, congrats) and he got right after it, crushing mountains. I was far ahead of where we planned on meeting, so he got lucky and got to hit the Smokies with us.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
We entered the Smokies on Wed, April 11, day of the Minnesota Wild’s first playoff game. No comment. We had to separate from Gigs, Happy Feet, and Moonshine because PK needed to get picked up at Clingmans Dome on Friday morning. We put in some serious miles, logging 14.9 and 16.4 days through major elevation gains (2,000-plus feet) each day. We made it to Clingmans Dome, the perfect place to wrap up an awesome week with the bro.
Another big shout-out to Kara for picking us up at Clingmans and being so helpful through this stretch.
My good friend Mrs. Daly for the gift cards.
Maggie and Jim for the ride.
All the others who have picked me up on side of the road.
Patrick for coming out.
My family for the continued support.
Fiends for checking in.
Lori, for buying me breakfast at the delicious Biscuit Head. Frann, Jennifer, Lisa, and Julie for letting me crash your breakfast. Have a fun weekend. Go Tigers!
I know I have left a lot out, but I hope everyone is doing awesome. This adventure is nothing like I could have imagined.
I wanna wrap up with a quote that my good pal Wallace gave me for some on-trail support.
“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” – Gever Tulley
Once again, hope everyone is doing well.
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