Days 6-8: Perseverance, Trail Magic, and New Friends
After a luxurious night at the Fairfield, I was anxious to get moving. As soon as I realized there weren’t going to be thunderstorms, I knew I wanted to get back on the trail ASAP. Rain alone I could handle. With so many other hikers in the same boat, it was hard to find a shuttle to get out of town, but I finally got someone to come pick me up. There was a car crash that left us at a standstill for a while and I was starting to think my bad luck streak wasn’t over yet.
I hopped out of the car and into the rain and after a few steps realized I had left my trekking poles in the back of the shuttle driver’s truck. I yelled, waved my arms, and ran after the car, but she didn’t see me. I called her but no answer. I texted her, hoping she would see it as soon as possible. I considered going on without my poles, but I need them in order to set up my tent. I was lucky to have had backup water treatment when I lost my water filter, but I didn’t have a backup for my poles. After a few minutes of crying and standing in the rain, she came back. I gave her an extra $5 for putting her even more behind schedule than she already was and started hiking.
I hiked for the next 2-3 hours in the pouring rain. I still felt overwhelmed by the past 24-36 hours but I was proud of myself for getting out there and not letting any of this lessen my determination to move forward. I felt more and more empowered as I stepped through the giant puddles, and I laughed to myself as I remembered that just yesterday I had been cursing the sun for burning my skin.
The next day I got up and was one of the first ones out of camp. I passed a group of 6-7 people on the way out and was leapfrogging with most of them for the rest of the morning. Coming into Unicoi Gap we all stopped because there was a guy (Paul/Rainman) from Atlanta there who had set up two huge tables of trail magic. He had pasta, Italian sausage, pop tarts, cookies, water, soda, bread, and chips. I am blown away by the kindness of complete strangers who will use their time to come to feed hungry hikers.
While at the gap, I met another solo female hiker, Karianna, who was a part of the group I had been leapfrogging with. On a whim, we made plans to share a cabin at a hostel we were going to be getting to the following day. We all finished out a tough 15.5-mile day at the top of Tray Mountain where we set up camp. We sat around the fire and hung out for a while which was really nice. It was windy that night but I had my best night of sleep so far. I had gotten used to waking up every 1-2 hours in my tent, but that night I was out cold from 10:30-3:30.
The next morning we packed up and hiked a tough 11 miles to Dicks Creek Gap where we walked .5 miles up the road to Around the Bend Hostel where we were spending the night. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of my adventure with my current tramily. More to come about this and my experience in Hiawassee in my next post.
While I’ve enjoyed documenting the struggles and triumphs of my early days on trail, I’ve realized that so many memorable things happen every day that it’s not going to be realistic for me to write about them all. Moving forward I’m going to work on summarizing my experiences in a way that’s easily digestible but still gives the full picture of my journey. Needless to say, things have really turned around since my last post and I can’t wait to continue to share it all.
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