Hiker Care Package (live from Erwin, TN)

Erwin, Tennessee is a small town in all aspects of the term, except for one: it’s kinda big if you have to walk it. Therefore, Uncle Johnny’s Hostel, which is perfectly stationed at the Trail Head in town, has a bit of a monopoly on hikers. I did not stay there.

Instead, my hiking buddy since Fontana Dam, Quiet Diet, and I hitched the 5 miles to the North side of town and immediately went to the All You Can Eat KFC buffet and ate a whole family of chickens. Fat, bloated, and frankly being an eye sore (and probably a nose sore) on the sidewalk outside of the establishment, it occurred to me that I probably had cell service for the first time since Gatlinburg – more than 2 weeks ago.

“Neat!” I exclaimed as the notifications began rolling in. Bleep, bloop, blllringgg. “It’s gonna be a minute…” I muttered to my comatose friend. Then a text caught my eye. It was from Apple Butter, my hiking buddy from the Pacific Crest Trail last year with whom I’d walked and, more impotantly, cooked for over 2000 miles. He’d written that he’d sent a care package for me to Uncle Johnny’s. “Of course,” I said and scrambled for my gear. This was going to delay our resupply because it is always key to raid hiker boxes and open packages before you go shopping for supplementary snacks and dinners. However, I didn’t want to hold up Quiet Diet, so I opted to look in AWOL’s AT guide book for a shuttle. Amazingly, I saw I had another friend from the PCT who offers shuttle services from his home in Erwin: 10-K, a retired man who started the PCT a month after me and finished almost 2 months before me. Truly a bad ass who I would be delighted to see again and may be able to help me get my package. “I’ll text 10-K in the morning,” I said. “I need to purge,” groaned QD.

We stayed the night on Miss Janet’s lawn and left early to start out day of chores. 10-K found time to bring me to Uncle Johnny’s, where naturally, my name was not on the list of received packages. I began scrambing through the packages, and I found it. It was the last one I checked.

Back at the motel, I busted it open. I was excited! It was my first care package of the Trail and from someone who knows my tastes. He knows how fun it is to get frankly weird things and experiment with different foods. But I was unprepared for how weird it was really going to be.


Best card ever.

Best card ever.

The first thing I saw was the tea. One baggy was labeled, “Fresh Tea.” That’s great! I love tea. But another baggy was labeled, “Shared Tea.” It looked more like used tea. “…Hm. Apple Butter. What are you trying to tell me?” I wondered. Then there were some soup mixes covered in Spanish writing, and something called “Fish Tea.” I pulled out another bagggy with some Goya seasoning. One of the packages was open and started spilling on the bed. “Ok, what the hell is going on here?” asked QD. I just started laughing.


Apple Butter essentially sent me a hiker box (read: a give-a-penny-take-a-penny type box for hikers, but instead of pennies it’s baggies of mysterious off-white powders, empty fuel cannisters, lightly used insoles, and other miscellany). He knows me too well.

As for the shared tea, it has finally occurred to me that this is a very sweet gesture. While we are hundreds of miles away, I can use these spent tea bags to brew a hiker trash cuppa in my pot, compete with little bits of cheddar broccoli rice from last nights supper, as a fond remembrance of times we spent on the PCT watching the sun go down. I’m probably just going to drink the fresh tea, but I really appreciate the beautifully odd thought that went into it.

Some awesome snacks and cookables I received from Apple Butter!

Some awesome snacks and cookables I received from Apple Butter!

You know you're dealing with a hiker professional when he mails you dental floss wrapped around a Q-tip, saving weight and space!

You know you’re dealing with a hiker professional when he mails you dental floss wrapped around a Q-tip, saving weight and space!

Well, regardless of the care package, the forethought, the planning, and the second all you can eat buffet at Pizza Plus, Quiet Diet and I are both leaving town today with what feels like 30 pounds of food. Town is a treacherous place.

Oh hey – while I think of it, I’ll be in Damascus in a coupla weeks! If you’d like to mail me some more weird shit (or just some salami!!), I’d love to Instagram it and also eat it!

Just mail to: Kristin Corley, General Delivery, Damascus, VA 24236

Thanks ya’ll, until next time.

Johnny Rambo


Inundated with foodstuff.

Inundated with foodstuff.

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