Thru Hikers get Derailed by Wine Tasting
Bama➡️Baxter Day 73&74
Day 73: 8.8 miles
This morning I woke up in the Partnership Shelter around 7:00 a.m. and packed up. Most everyone else had already gotten up and hiked on. But the six of us were planning on going into Marion to do an in and out resupply. Once everyone was situated, we headed to the road to begin hitching. It didn’t take long to score a ride with a lady who was able to bring most of us into town. It’s usually pretty impossible to get a hitch for more than three or four people at a time.
Once we got into Marion, we went to a cafe to grab some breakfast and charge our electronics. The nice people working there told us we could stay for as long as we’d like which was awesome news. Everyone got their laundry together and Tia and I walked down the street to start it all up. On our way over a shuttle bus pulled over and offered to drive us the rest of the way.
While the laundry was in the wash I was able to lay my tent out to dry. It was still a bit wet from two days ago. Then Tia and I headed back to the cafe so that we could finish up resupplying and get out of town. The guy driving the shuttle told us that he could bring all of us back to trail around 2:00 p.m. That meant we had to scramble to quickly go to a store and buy what we needed for the next stretch of trail.
I headed to dollar general and ran quickly through the store. And on my walk back I couldn’t resist hitting up Hardy’s for a burger and a milkshake to tide me over. We all managed to get our shopping done just in time to make the shuttle. It was truly perfect.
At one point while I was standing outside of the cafe I ran into two hikers who I had seen before. They both looked very familiar but I wasn’t sure of their names. But when I introduced myself to them I realized that they were the two guys that another hiker Papa Bear had warned me about just days ago. Apparently they were making crude comments about me at the cinco de Mayo trail magic. He wanted me to know so that I could be more cautious around them, which I really appreciated. I would have never guessed that it was them.
All of us got the shuttle back to the Partnership Shelter and got back to hiking around 2:45 p.m. Not bad timing for an in and out of town resupply. The trail after the road was pretty cruisy with only a couple short stretches of climb. We did a quick four miles and then stopped to take a short break and let everyone catch up. From there we walked for another four miles to a spur for an 1890s barn. We were debating trying to get to a nearby road where there was a restaurant. But upon further inspection we realized that the restaurant was closed. So we decided to do a shorter day instead and camp nearby.
We went over to the barn to see if we should camp there. But then saw on Far Out that there was an 1890s school house just down the trail. Apparently you could camp inside the school house. All of us loved the idea of doing that and decided to push on.
The school house was really nice and even had the old style desks still set up inside. It was a fully enclosed building and was clearly well maintained. There was also a museum just down the street which had bathrooms with running water and a fresh water spigot. It felt like we were glamping for sure! Another hiker Breezy was already there and she decided to stay the night as well since she would no longer be alone.
I got situated in the school house and then sat out on the porch to make dinner. Two other hikers arrived, Zen and Sonar. They have both hiked the AT before and are doing a section hike to get to Trail Days in Damascus. The one hiker Zen had a tiny Yorkshire terrier that is hiking along with him. It was adorable.
After we ate and hung outside for a while everyone headed back into the school house to call it a night. It was definitely one of the nicest “shelters” that we’ve encountered so far along the AT.
Day 74: 15.6 miles
This morning we packed up and left the schoolhouse around 7:40 a.m. I was able to brush my teeth in a bathroom with running water, which felt like a major luxury.
By 9:00 a.m. we had gone a few miles and the trail passed right by a gas station. It had just started to rain so we all headed inside to get out of it. Just as we got in it began to pour! The timing could not have been better. I bought a breakfast sandwich, a Starbucks coffee drink, and a cookies and creme freal milkshake. It was such an amazing way to start the day. Breezy was there too and all of us hung out eating together.
After a little while we rain began to lighten up so we decided to push on. We had seen a post on Far Out about a distillery and winery nearby that did tastings. Everyone was joking about how we should stop off there along the way. And as it always happens, the joke became a little more real every time someone said it. Then before you knew it someone was calling the distillery to make sure that they were open. And sure enough they were.
So we headed out of the gas station and did a couple more miles. It began to rain not long after we started walking again which was a real bummer. When we arrived at the road crossing where we had the option of walking a mile down the road to the distillery the choice was pretty unanimous. Everyone wanted an excuse to get out of the rain. The seven of us excitedly walked along the road in the rain headed to a tasting! And just like clockwork it began to absolutely dump down on us just as we arrived. No one had any regrets about doing a side quest on such a crummy day.
We arrived at the winery and distillery and the man working there was incredibly nice to all of us. The tasting was free and we were able to try an assortment of different wines. Then we moved on to the distillery side and got to try an array of different alcohols. Vodka, whiskey, moonshine. You name it.
After we finished up at the tasting the guys bought a couple bottles of wine for us to all share. The rain had just stopped and the sun came out as well! So we sat outside and dried our things a bit while drinking wine and eating snacks. It was such a nice way to spend the day. I was so glad that we didn’t suffer in the rain if we didn’t have to.
By the time that we were all ready to get back to hiking it had turned into an absolutely beautiful day. The sun was out and everyone was feeling great. We continued on from there and headed back to the AT. After a couple of miles we stopped off to fill up water. Then continued along to do another few miles before taking a real break.
Sweet Pea and Boosted stopped off to take a rest and eat something at a clearing along the trail. I sat down with them and we waited for everyone else to arrive. Now we only had a handful more miles to do for the day. We knew that there was a hostel just five to six miles ahead where we could buy some snacks and sodas. And there was camping along the AT right by the hostel. So we figured that we would plan to head there for the night.
After our break we pushed on to finish off the last stretch of the day. The miles were pretty cruisy with just one or two short climbs. We did however have to climb up and over a couple wooden ladders because of barbed wire fences that cut across the trail. The biggest obstacle was Boosted getting his dog Roxy up and over the fences. Some of them has space underneath that she could fit through. But others were so tall that he had to pick her up and put her over the other side. Depending on the height of a fence that can be a tricky maneuver with a pretty good sized dog.
Around 6:00 p.m. we arrived at the road and walked the short .2 miles down to Bear Garden Hiker Hostel. The couple that runs it was super nice to us and showed us around. I was able to get some microwave low mien which was killer. And I also got three Yoo-hoos, an orange soda, and a sprite. I’m a bit obsessed with Yoo-hoo at the moment. I drank one unbelievably quickly. And then I drank another. I packed out the final Yoo-hoo, orange soda, and sprite to have at camp later tonight.
Once we were finished up at the hostel we walked back to the trail and wound up setting up camp just a couple hundred yards from the road. A few other hikers that we knew were already set up there as well; GG, Gummy Bear, and Stakes. The sites leftover weren’t great but all of us managed to make it work.
I set up my camp pretty quickly and then sat inside my tent and drank a nice cold sprite. It doesn’t get much better than that. For dinner I wound up just eating snacks because I was so full from the food at the hostel.
While we were at the gas station this morning Sweet Pea had bought a case of fireball shots. All of us packed one out over the course of the day so that we could take it together later. So once everyone was done eating and we were all just hanging out we decided to drink the fire ball. Then I ate a couple more snacks and wound up calling it a night.
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