Don’t Jinx This

My First Hostel

Our second zero day was going to see me staying in my first hostel.  I am pretty sure that Becky had stayed in a hostel before while doing a warmup hike late last year.  I was looking forward to the rest since  my body kept finding new ways to make me concerned about my physical well being.  I was not, however, looking forward to being put into a room full of people I didn’t know.  I am an introvert and slightly antisocial while Becky is more of an extrovert with a capital E, capital X, T-R-O-and V.

We had even talked before the trip about how I would have to find some comfort in these situations as they arose.  As we approached my nervousness was drowned away by the first rain we got caught in that morphed into a hail storm.  We huddled together under a tree for a brief moment while waiting for it to pass.

The Top of Georgia Hostel was a 1/2 mile walk down a paved road that the path crossed.  We got to the office 30 minutes before the strict 7 o’clock signin.  The hostel is ran as a nonprofit.  The 7pm signin cutoff is to insure that forms could be signed, rules relayed, and laundry completed and returned to you before the 10pm quiet hour.  The first night I didn’t shower and instead waited until the next day because they cleaned the hostel between 10am and noon.  I felt better being the first one to use the shower after a cleaning.

First Mail Drop

During our checkin we got our first mail drop.  A box of goodies we had my mom send included toilet paper, a combination of different size ziploc baggies, hand sanitizer, and enough food for about 4-5 days. Part of our preparation for the hike was to determine where we thought would be good locations to have as resupply points.  Most places would accept packages and hold them for you until you show up for a small fee; like $1 or 2.  Some require a stay to do this service while others don’t.

So I have the box in hand.  I immediately start to devour the gummi bears until Becky takes them away from me.  Next the peanut M&Ms.  Becky takes those away from me even quicker so we have some to separate into our food bags.  To save space in our packs we open the freeze dried meals from their stiff packaging and put them in freezer ziploc bags and write on the outside the type of food it is, how many servings, how much water they require, and how long it takes for the food to rehydrate after the hot water is added.  We divvy up the food into each of our packs and now we’re ready to hit the trail again.  But first the day of rest.

I Might Have A Trail Name

Right before we got caught in the hail storm we came across some ladies at a campsite on the trail.  A few of them had camped at the same spots we did for a couple of days earlier in the week.  When they saw us approaching one called out, “hey look, here comes Becky and Mr Snickers”.  Evidently, I am Mr Snickers!

I can think of all kinds of reasons why that name fits me.  Like the commercial, when I am hungry I do tend to get a little hard to deal with.  Some people think I have a peculiar laugh.  At times, to give the appearance that I care about the conversation Becky is having with someone on the trail I’ll give a little laugh like I am interested but without actually having to be engaged in it.  I like Snickers candy bars.

So I don’t think the trail name of Mr Snickers is all that bad.  Although, I’ve only had one Snickers while I’ve been hiking.  What is the real reason for why they named me so?  When I inquire about its origin it is so simple that I’m relieved I didn’t have to do something stupid to earn it and decide I’ll let it ride as long as I can.  The ladies were actually having a discussion about something they said I joked about Becky when we camped together.  They were actually referring to her as Snickers because of whatever I said about her.  So as the discussion continued they couldn’t remember my name so they referred to me as Mr Snickers.  But of course they remember Beckys name so they slowly just reverted back to calling her Becky and continued to call me by my new trail name.  Pretty unceremonious but it sure beats some alternatives.  Only time will tell if it sticks.

Zero Day

Our zero day is relaxing.  We start with all you can eat cereal in the hostel office.  A former thruhiker, Sir Packs-a-lot, gives a talk about tips on how to be successful in this endeavor.  As mentioned earlier, I hit the just cleaned shower before we take a free shuttle into Hiawassee GA.  Becky, myself, a guy from Utah named David and a guy from Wisconsin named Sam decide to eat at Daniels Steak House.  The name itself is funny because they didn’t serve steak.

The so-called steak house decor is a mix between Gone With The Wind dolls and religious sayings.  Christian music plays ever so lightly over the speakers.  It is a buffet.  Half salad bar, half fried chicken and a couple fixings.  Breaking from my usual trail food I have two plates of salad loaded with all the stuff I would normally skip.  When I finally move on it is for a baked pork chop.  I know the importance of these meals for my body outweigh my desire for pudding only.  Great meal for what turned out to be less than $10 each before the tip.

Fixing A Water Problem

Sam takes off for the grocery while Becky, David and I tackle some gear issues at the hardware store. I’m trying to fix a water issue. I left my camelback water bag with the drink hose at home.  Instead, I’m just using 1 liter size bottles to carry water in.  My issue is I can’t easily reach them from my side pockets of my backpack.  I work the water bottles out with some awkward movements but can’t put them back without help.  That makes me dependent on Becky to be around when I’m thirsty.

I think the answer to my problem is to find a way to secure the water bottle to the front of my shoulder straps.  I’m thinking releasable zip ties.  I don’t find any.  What I do find is bendable metal string pieces covered in some nonslip rubberized coating that I am sure will do the trick.  Turns out they work great.  They are just long enough to go around the water bottle I’m using and twist once or twice locking the bottle in place on my shoulder strap.  $5 and I’m feeling pretty good about myself.

Last Stop

Becky, David and I are now walking to our pickup point, the grocery, to be shuttled back to the hostel.  We have enough time to supplement our food delivery from our mail drop and shop for a few last minute items.  I get a package of six welchs grape flavor packets.  Becky buys about 40 tea mixes.  I find the releasable zip ties assortment pack for less than $3 and pick them up as a backup to my fancy metal nonslip coated straps.

The shuttle shows up on time and takes us all back to the hostel for the night.  It is far less crowded than the prior night.  Becky teaches David how to play Acey Duecey and he wins while I taunt her from across the room about needing to be watched for cheating.  It has been a great zero.  I’m rested, resupplied, cleaned and ready for the next morning to get back on the trail.

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