Moving Right Along
Day 7) 4/26/15
Setting my alarm for 7:30 pm was a rookie mistake. Luckily, Hadyn woke up with the sun (newly learned trail habit) and we decided to give Tiga Mike a call to let him know we needed more rest. He completely understood! More power to him and The Heartfund Kid for hitting the trail at 8 in the morning.
We slept until about 10:30 and gave Joyce and Sally’s shuttle service a call. If you’re ever in need of a ride in the Hiawassee area, give them a call! They’re super informative and affordable. This time it was Sally who pulled up in her Subaru and requested that we sit in the back. Along the way she was giving us all kinds of fun facts about the area, and mentioned how we still looked awfully tired. She told us not to be afraid to take a zero day this early. Our ears perked up.
Sally dropped us off back at Uniquoi Gap, and as soon as she was out of sight, we gave the zero day a real thought. We were in! A nice older man who’d hiked the Trail in the 70’s let us hop in the back of his truck back into town. We hobbled right back into the hotel, tired but shameless, and got a room right next to our first one. We didn’t take a zero day just to watch Game of Thrones, but it was a real nice bonus!
Day 8) 4/27/15
With so much down time the previous day, I’d given some real thought to how much my Jorgen VonStrangle-esque boots had taken a toll on my feet and legs. They were just too heavy.
So this morning I got up at 8 to search the town for a new pair. It took me until about 10 to track down a small outfitter with the sign, “Yes we’re open. And awesome.”, had the perfect pair of boots for me! The sign was right. They are a little oversized, but nothing a double pair of socks can’t fix! Talk about lifesavers. I gladly sent my clodhoppers back home.
After grabbing breakfast at the hotel, and lacing up my brand spankin’ new trail shoes, it was time to give our old pal Sally a call! After we all had our laughs about the déjà vu feeling out of the way, it was back to Uniquoi!
This time I hit the trail feeling like a brand new man! I decided to add music and war paint to really reintroduce myself to the trail. Hit it, Black Keys! We hiked on for a while and decided to give the shelter life a first try.
We got all set up at Tray Mountain Shelter, and Andrew came and joined the party. He’s hiked 20 miles that day and chalked it up to “I ran a lot before this.” Impressive! He set up a tent and warned us about shelter mice problems. This shelter seemed clear!
(Also, happy birthday Kevin. Love you brotha!)
Day 9) 4/28/15
I woke up at first sunlight when I heard Andrew packing up to start his day off. He must be off to overachieve some more! I only joke. I’m actually super impressed with the dude! Keep on keepin on Andrew “20 Miles”, we may never meet again.
About another hour of Zs went by and Hadyn and me started to pack up, when we saw someone else striding up. He called himself Joker, and chatted with us about his 50 degree hammock, which has to be f-f-freezing at night!
He also mentioned seeing army helicopters with searchlights at night and that he assumed they were searching for him. He went to use the privy and we booked it outta there as we was telling us how he’s loving these short timed trail poops..
So we got a move on. It turned out to be a pretty flat day up until the point of hitting Kelly Knob. After struggling up, and finally reaching the top, Joker caught up to us. He went on to tell us the story of painting a sunset outdoors once, and having a bat fly smack into the middle of the canvas. He also gave us his best screech owl impression. Wow!
We decided to get down the mountain after Joker got distracted by Big Sexy and the Funky Bunch.
We’d heard about a storm blowing in all day, and we knew Joker would be following after us, so we decided to hitch back to Hiawassee once we got to Dick’s Creek! We just can’t get away from this place. Sweet Darlene gave us a fine room and told us to mail her a Katahdin picture!
Day 10) 4/29/15
So long Hiawassee! Stay cool.
Joyce showed up about 30 minutes after our call, got us all settled into Subaru, and started the short trip to Dick’s Creek! She sincerely thanked us for our business and sent us off.
As we pulled up, we found Joker chatting with two more fellas we met at McDonald’s the previous weekend. They were taking a nero (near zero) day at the hostel. So after a brief chat, we separated our own ways.
We ended up passing Rock and Skinner, who we’d met the previous day. Get this, Rock is attempting to hiker the entire trail with his hands behind his back! And Skinner got her trail name after Rock had killed a rattle snake and she prepared it as a meal that night. What an interesting pair!
We made it to Plum Orchard Shelter for lunch, where we once again met Big Sexy and the Funky Bunch, who turned out to be a super cool group! Some of them even grew up in Oklahoma! Bonus points.
After finishing lunch, and filtering our water, we pressed on for 4 more, seemingly never ending miles to the North Carolina border! We camped with a chipper couple who brought Blue Moon for the border crossing, Hobbit, and a group of other people who crashed pretty early. One state down!
Day 11) 4/30/15
North Carolina rolled out the welcome mat with two majorly steep climbs, which one Bill Gates lookalike in front of us conquered with no problem!
We pressed on to Deep Gap for lunch. As we were approaching it, we noticed two big vans and a large group, and got our hopes up for trail magic! What we got was an eager group of boy scouts and one of the adult supervisors with his butt hanging out. Fantastic.
Big Sexy and the Funky Bunch soon caught up and had lunch with us, but camped out earlier than us. We got a surprise rain storm and temperature drop as we were summiting Standing Indian! So. So. Cold.
We set up camp as fast as we could at the next gap during a small break in the rain, and ate our noodles as fast as we could. I stayed nice and warm in my tent and only woke up when I heard an owl outside. JOKER!?
Day 12) 5/1/15
Getting back out of my tent was rough. The morning was about as wet and cold as the night before, but the sun came along soon enough! You never know what clothes to wear out here, it gets hot and cold so fast, which keeps you on your toes.
The sun came out soon enough, and we were ready to roll! We met up with some of the Border group who camped out just ahead of us at Muskrat Shelter. We took a small break there, but soon moved on to the tunnel through the mountain top, that was something straight out of Middle Earth!
We noticed an opening to the right and stepped into what was the best view of this point, which I couldn’t get a picture of on the count of my dead phone. Here’s the thing though, not having to think about when to take pictures makes this trip seem so much more personal. It’s hard to describe. But I’ll do my best to keep a better charge!
Shortly later that day we scaled a mountain side to the 100 mile mark! It was our most challenging climb to the tower that marked it, and had lunch on top of what’s called the Fire Tower! The view beat the one from the Middle Earth tunnel, and that’s saying a lot.
We decided to try out the shelter about 3 miles ahead and had our first run in with shelter mice! They were scurrying about looking for some gear to chew into, but luckily another hiker taught us how to use the backpack hangers. That still didn’t stop them from running around the shelter as we cowered in our sleeping bags..
Day 13) 5/2/15
Today the mission was to get to town as quick as possible, and boy did we deliver. After waking up and realizing that my stuff was mouse free, I was ready to rock! (We’ve heard the same story from multiple people about a mama mouse who’d gotten into one guy’s bag and given birth overnight. Who says tents are so bad?)
We had about 7.5 miles ahead of us, and stopped about halfway in for a water break, where we met two Southbounders fixing to wrap up their last 100 miles to Springer! They gave us a ton of tips and what to expect in the days to come.
After pressing on, we met a lady and her dog who were day-hiking. We heard her dog growling at us before we saw either of them! The lady basically told is that we shall not pass until Homer gave us a thorough sniff down. I’m not sure he liked what he smelled, but we got his approval and moved on!
We finally made it to Winding Stair Gap and hitched into town in the back of a Yeti Coolers fanatic truck! Such a cool guy. He even gave us each a Shock Top and took us to the exact hotel we were aiming for. We chatted with some bikers as we were checking in and then it was off to lunch! Is that a McDonalds across the way?
Later that evening we started our 3.5 mile walk to Vito’s Pizza to watch the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight, only to call and find out that all the standing room was filled. Papajohn’s pizza and hotel room it is.
Day 14) 5/3/15
ZERO DAY IN FRANKLIN! It’s been a great one. Continental breakfast that included waffles. I took an extra shower. And Sonic chili dogs for lunch.
We do some laundry, and resupplying to do this evening, but nothing too serious. And we are in town on a Sunday so at 9 o’clock it’s strictly business. (Game of Thrones theme song playing in the distance.)
It feels like so much longer than two weeks since this journey began, but we still have a long ways to go! 110 miles isn’t too shabby though, if I say so myself. Once again thank you all for your support and interest, and happy trails!
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