When do I really start?

I seem to spend more days off trail than on.  No wonder I’m still moving at the speed of snail.  I mean, first, I came down to buy a new sleep system, which is working very well, thank you very much. Then, I took two days at Mountain Crossing with a sore hip. Now, I must confess that I have been several days in a motel recovering from a bad chest cold, and, although I feel better, the weather is lousy (nothing unusual on this hike), and so I have sought refuge at the famous Blueberry Patch Hostel, near Hiawassee, Georgia.

Before I detail my downfall and what ultimately led to my being an indoor dweller (a temporary condition, I assure you), let me say that Blueberry Patch is wonderful, warm, and welcoming. There are two donkeys and some goats in the yard, Gary Poteat (owner) is a great guy, and I understand that there will be pancakes for breakfast.

So, here’s what happened:  it rained.  It poured. Nothing unusual there, I have had a lot of rain on this trip.  A lot of rain.  The trail is very rocky around here.  So, it’s slick going up and slicker going down.  On sunny days, I can bear the cold, and the soreness, and my shameful daily mileage, but on this particular day, the rain subsided into a muddy, misty, mess and then a wicked wind blew across the nameless rocky peak where I stopped to adjust my pack. My gloves encumbered my ability to adjust the straps so I removed them and set them down on a large rock.

 Normally, I’m what you would call a “hat person”.  I love to wear hats, normally,  but the one I chose for this adventure tends to float off my head as though filled with helium gas, and therefore could not be considered a normal hat by any stretch of the imagination.  Since my headwear was, at that moment of pack strap adjustment, in fact levitating, I snatched it off, laying it beside my gloves on the large rock at the peak of this miserable, misty mountain.

That is when the whirling wicked wind blew across my path.  Across that barren peak the wind roared and like the cyclone helping Dorothy escape Kansas, it picked up my hat and gloves and hurled them down the side of that mountain.  I went as close to the edge as I dared and looked down but my beautiful warm gloves and my self-inflating hat were nowhere to be seen.  For all I know, my things were blown to Oz itself, where even now, they are being worn by a member of the Lollipop Guild for parades, Wicked Witch crushings, and other special occasions.

Needless to say, by my next road crossing, hours later, I was thoroughly chilled, thoroughly aggrevated, and thoroughly alarmed to find a Tearful Young Woman to trying to hitchhike in a very polite manner.  By polite, I mean that when she saw a car coming she would stick out her thumb and look hopeful.  This method, as I recall from my misguided youth (Sorry Dad), does NOT work very well.  It does not work well at all.

The Tearful Young Woman, although wearing a hat and two (count ‘m) gloves, looked colder and more miserable than I felt.  She was in a lot of pain (bad feet) and no one would stop.  Now, my method of obtaining transportation is directly inspired by the seventies television show, “Emergency”.  I simply step partway into traffic and wave my arms wildly toward the shoulder of the road as if directing paramedics to the accident victims.  (On “Emergency” someone waved wildly at the ambulance at every accident scene. Can you imagine that on your resume?  “Yes, I  played Wild Ambulance Waver Number 2.”  Would you get so good at it that you would become Hollywood’s go-to for Wild Waving?  I used to live in L,A.  I may have missed a career opportunity.)

The Tearful Young Woman and I wildly waved down the next vehicle and with packs and poles stowed in the back, were soon on our way to Hiawassee.  Our driver said he hoped to have a chance to hike the A. T. one day, had a son in some kind of trouble in Atlanta (his wife was there at that very moment, straightening the boy out), felt that Hiawassee was the best place for us, and despite asking us where we were headed, was also deaf as a doorknob, and so to Hiawassee we must go.

It’s been Hiawassee, a pleasant enough little place, where I have been trapped by a chest cold.  The Tearful Young Woman left the trail and went home, and I spent my time sewing up the rips in my coat, coughing, and watching “Law and Order”.  I did manage to replace my gloves while there and purchase my third (yes, my THIRD fuel bottle…I don’t want to talk about that right now).

I am hanging out at Blueberry Patch until the rain stops.  Then, I have a strong commitment to staying on the trail.  Everyone talks about getting their trail legs and I hope that I get mine soon.  I am so ready to exit Georgia.  Still not about to say the “Q” word.

lead image: Ken Seals

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