First Hotel Stay
Last night I stayed in a hotel in Hiawasee, GA near the northern border with my two hiking buddies Ryan and Aquaman (he received his trail name two days ago on top of a mountain). This is the crummiest hotel I’ve ever seen but the beds aren’t the ground and there aren’t any bed bugs, Oh! and there’s a shower! We managed to get to a town two days ago before our hike simply to enjoy a Waffle House breakfast after about four days on trail (my first WH experience and a wonderful one). Last night we had to hitch our way into town and promptly flopped down on the most comfortable beds $50 can buy after a grueling 15 mile day up and down several mountains. So far this has been one hell of an adventure.
Writing every single detail of the past five days would be all but impossible even if I was journaling every day so I will simply include some of the highlights.
My first day was actually a zero as I walked from the Springer Mtn parking lot to the top of Springer Mtn (1mi in the wrong direction) and camped near the summit since it was nearly 6:30pm. That was mostly boring except a mouse got into my food the first day — I had to buy a proper food bag a couple days later at Neel’s Gap. Day two I met Parth and got completely soaked, not to mention nearly hypothermic, due to a severe thunderstorm sprinkled with hail. That night we both managed to get to a pavilion overlooking an ancient cemetery (wooden headstones included) where we made camp. Thankfully, some clever person put plywood up in the eves and a couple boards to block the wind. We barely noticed them except for the handwritten signs below each one stating, “Motel 6,” and, “Motel 8.” We slept like kings with a locomotive of a thunderstorm raging down on our tin roof.
The following day Ryan and Dave (Aquaman) ended up right behind us and after a bit of chatting we all decided to continue on together. By now we have been together several days (save Parth, he couldn’t make it up and over Blue Mtn so he stayed at one of the shelters last night..poor guy, we may not see him again). The three of us who remain have become incredibly close in just a few short days and there is an excellent chance we will make it all the way to Katadin in Maine together. We have been setting an incredibly fast pace every day and even our slack days tend to put a good number of miles under our feet. As one of the other hikers staying at this most crummy dump of a hotel said last night, “It’s awfully early for y’all to be this far already, isn’t it?” Yes, yes it is. We have been firing on all cylinders until every muscle in our bodies screams for relief. I’ve never felt better in my life.
Looking back it feels like everything we’ve done is rather insignificant, though it was paramount and amazing at the time. We had a grand old time at our first shelter, enjoying the tiniest shot of Jim Beam to warm up and laughing with the Ridge Runner (more or less a chaperone for shelters). We pushed a solid 17 miles to Neel’s Gap from there which included the insanely rocky climb over Blood Mtn. Neel’s is the only place the trail goes through a building (it’s a hostel/outfitter) and as the rain poured down on us we sat with the owner of the place and had a Busch which may very well have been the best beer I’ve ever had. I almost forgot, we picked up another member at this point, though she’s, “hiking her own hike,” which in short means she’s not exactly sticking to the white blazes as rigidly as possible…oh well, she’s a good laugh. She actually got the name, “Waffles,” with us after putting syrup packets in her rain jacket before strapping her pack on — she still smells like syrup from where they exploded inside her rain jacket and all over her pants and phone, like I said, GREAT for a laugh.
It is incredible how fast the time goes by out here, we hike for 8-9 hours a day and crash near 9:00pm every night only to wake at 7:00am and do it all over again. I am in a fantastic mood nearly nonstop and I know the same can be said for the others as well. It’s a huge change of pace from living in town and going to work every day, and it’s only just begun! I wouldn’t trade a second of this for anything, not even more Waffle House…
We should be in Franklin, NC this coming Monday (5/9), about 52mi from where we are now, where I can hopefully upload some of the incredible photos I’ve taken (the computer I’m on now is Linux-based and none of the ports work). Check FB for quick updates and photos as I can upload them.
Thanks for reading!
Till next time,
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Did you lose 2 already???
What a great adventure! Glad to hear you’re feeling good and making high mileage. Love you!!
What a great adventure so far and what a great writer you are. Love following what you are doing out there. Enjoy every second and I look forward to reading your next post.