First Zero Day Zero Miles In
Monday. March 30th, 2015. I awake in my bed with one eye already open and thoughts, sensical and otherwise, racing through my head. Laundry, shower, vacuum, pack. My head is still mushy from my weekend with my friends in New Hampshire. I have more traveling to do. Always more traveling. And it starts in a couple of hours.
After hustling to do my chores, my ride texts me. “Here.” I almost cry as I pat my kitties’ fluffy little heads and head for the door.
“Thank you so much!” I say as I haul my pack out the door. It’s so heavy. Why is it so heavy?
I had posted weeks earlier on the forum on WhiteBlaze.net asking if there were any Massholes heading down to Springer. Mostly I got responses from buttheads trying to be helpful while telling me I would never find ride. This is usually the case with hiker forums. Buttheads.
A recently graduated mortician from Maine and his father from Massachusetts opened their arms and car doors to me. “Some early trail magic,” the young man said as he opened the trunk, his long orange hair and tattooed arms changing every image I’d ever had of the morbid profession. And man, what a relief! He looks nothing like Lurch!
The following two days we drove and chatted, and I napped in the back. We were Nashville bound for our first zero day. I’d never been to Nashville and visiting the city fell perfectly in line with my hiker trash tradition of dope ass side trips (on the PCT we hit San Diego, LA, Vancouver and Seattle). We made our way down I-81 and it occurred to me that in 2011, I had hiked thru many of the towns on the signs, and even crossed 81 after an amazing Easter Dinner at a wayside buffet. I overloaded these poor, polite men with tales and whiles of place name meanings and things I ate one time, and shelters nearby where I got MRSA. But miracles happen every day, and some way, some how, they didn’t kick me out of the car.
I was excited. We got to Nashville and the mortician’s father hooked us up with a sweet room in the middle of downtown. We enjoyed dinner together and then the boys crashed. My mind was still cruising and my cheek muscles were stuck in the upright position, so I spent a little time outside reflecting on the trip and on hikes past and taking in the scene. I sat down at a water fountain. Nearby, trees were flowering. My body and mind were still in shock from Boston’s brutal winter. At first I mistook fallen flower petals on the massive granite slab that is Nashville’s capital center for rock salt. I watched the locals saunter by in shorts and t-shirts. I took it all in. Music City. The Buckle of the Bible Belt. Nashville.
The mortician, his father and I walked this morning to a super fancy brunch place and got Nashville’s famous ‘hot chicken.’ We then went to the Tennessee State Museum (at my insistence of course), which is as beautiful as it is free. Completely. It is well curated and filled with an abundance of amazing artifacts. I learned that Nashville was the first state capital to fall to the Union and it was occupied for the duration of the War Between the States. This filled me with pride and satisfaction. Fuckin’ Rebs.
This evening we ate at Puckett’s Groceries. In order to go anywhere downtown, we had to walk by this place and it smells like bacon. Always. Naturally, we couldn’t pass it up, nor were we disappointed. Nashville’s food culture has proven to be, how do you say, scrumpy dumpy. With a capitol SCRUMP.
This mystery ride with a mortician and his father has been incredible. When I posted to WhiteBlaze, I never anticipated I’d have such a great experience. I thought I’d be infringing on father/son time. However, they made me feel like part of the family. Indeed, I’ve made a couple great friends.
Tomorrow morning, we head 4 hours south east to Amicolola Falls State Park and the Approach Trail. If the Trail ends up being anything like my experience with these gentlemen, this year’s hike will be epic as, as, as… the Odyssey. I think I will call it the Oddyssey. Copyrighted! No stealsies. Fuck yeah!
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