Modifying the Equation and Other Observations

For any life plan, there is an equation.  There is the balance of time, resources, and abilities that determines the success rate of whatever task we may seek to do.  As I sit here in the coin laundromat wearing nothing but my rain gear, surrounded by strangers, I reflect on our last week on the trail and wonder if a modification may be necessary.

Mail Drop Dropped

Long way from Hiawassee

Earlier this week we were notified by the US Postal Service that after fifteen days our priority one shipped food packages had finally arrived in Hiawassee, GA.  By car, Hiawassee was over two hours away from our current location on the Appalachian Trail.  If we ever wanted these packages, we would have to go get them as forwarding from GA would route them through the same broken distribution center.  We would have to send them North, and from somewhere not affected by this chaos – like Fontana Dam, NC.

Enterprise to the Rescue

Enterprise Rentals is offering a deal to thru hikers that they would pick you up on the trail and bring you to the office to rent a vehicle.  We couldn’t believe that this was the case, but called the national number and they assured us we were good to go.  They would meet us at 4:00 p.m. the next day at a gap and roadway some ten miles away.  We made hotel reservations for Franklin, NC – Good to Go!!!!!

April Fools!

We arrived at the intended destination two hours early after hoofing ten miles, which included “Jacob’s Ladder,” a very steep climb that required lots of what Ma Wampus calls my “Prayer Breaks.”  Prayer breaks usually just involves me bending over hands on my knees, panting, saying “Jesus,” sometimes repeatedly. Anyway, I called to let them know we were here early.  They replied that while we had been talking to their national call center, the local office had to approve pickups.  This pickup was not approved as it was a good hour from their office.   They would hold the car for us though.

Hometown to the Rescue

I resisted the urge to throw my phone in the woods.  Now what?  Very little coverage, so Uber was out.  It’s sometimes hit or miss with the shuttles.  Some of those guys are great and some of them just cost a great deal.  We’ve met both.  Chuck “Hometown” Allen, a former thru hiker, treated us very well during our visit to Franklin. We gave it a shot and luck was with us.  Hometown was with us in a little over an hour regaling with tales of the Cherokee.

Packages Solved – Equation Reworked

Great Meal at Tapoco Tavern – Riverside!

  1. We got the car the next day without issue, but Enterprise is still off my Christmas card list.  We got the post from Hiawassee and drove it to Fontana Dam where the postal employee assured us the packages would not go anywhere near Georgia.  She also gave us an incredible lunch location.  Small town post offices are the bomb.

In sum, we constantly rework the equation.  We must adapt and sometimes that requires you to just be wearing your rain gear so you can get more of your nasty clothes in the washer.  This particular scenario happens dozens of times in any given week in little coin laundromats all along the Appalachian Trail.

More next week, likely, as we face some heavy weather and enter the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Other Observations

As always, I am constantly tripping over amazing discoveries on and around the trail.

Wade’s Marker

Marker for Wade Sutton, who dies fighting a wildfire

Wade’s Marker

On a December Day in 1968, North Carolina State Forest Ranger and Swain County Fire Warden Wade Sutton was called out to battle a 100-acre forest fire.  He went up the mountain with his assistant, R. Camby.  They split up around midday, Camby continuing up the mountain and Sutton going down and across the blaze.  The team had finished much of their work by 4:00 that afternoon but Sutton failed to meet at the rendezvous point. Unfortunately, they found Sutton’s body later that evening.  Sutton was a husband, a father, and a WW2 veteran, among other things.  This marker, located on the trail, was a great reminder that the trail just doesn’t happen and sometimes the cost can be very high.

The Eastern Band

Earlier we discussed the Indian Removal Act and its effect on the Cherokee, specifically, their expulsion. One portion of the Cherokee people, the Eastern Band, remained in North Carolina in an area called the Qualla Boundary (aka Cherokee Indian Reservation).  This area was initially set up by a very complicated character named William Holland Thomas, who had been adopted by the Cherokee tribe and later named Chief.  Because Cherokee couldn’t enter into contracts, Thomas entered into them and bought a huge parcel of land.  The Eastern Band eventually made the boundary into their reservation, and it is recognized by the US government as an autonomous nation.  Members of the Eastern Band are essentially dual citizens.  While this doesn’t require passport control, per se, it does restrict the types of US activities – like law enforcement.  

Missourian to the Rescue

Missourian drives 9 hours to provide food and drink to AT Hikers

Coming off a ten-mile walk across several mountain ridges is pretty taxing.  The simple act of offering a cold Gatorade, a cloth chair, and a bag of Doritos is huge.  It’s even bigger though when the refreshment came nine hours from your home state.  Big shout out to Northstar, a Missourian former thru hiker, who wanted to just pay it forward!



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Comments 2

  • Richard : Apr 3rd

    I am enjoying the history lessons.

    • MaPa Wampus : Apr 7th

      Us too!!!


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