Week 2 – Emotional Rollercoaster
I’d like to start off by saying that this week has been a series of major ups and downs! Some physical, some internal… but over all it’s still been a great start to our adventure.
DAY 07, March 22nd
Unicoi Gap – Sassafras Gap
I’ve declared today Sad Panda Day. Today was my toughest day so far. I didn’t expect this when I sat down at the Huddle House to have a nice fat breakfast before heading back into the woods for a seemingly easy day. The first incline was rough but the weather was good. As we headed up Tray Mountain… Tray must have been a real bastard because that mountain wrecked me… the weather turned to shit and the sad panda ensued.
Wet, cold, tired and bloated (I also started “lady time” last night), we finally made it camp. While attempting to wrangle my tent-turned kite, I realized I was missing half of my tent stakes. With cold, numb fingers I searched for sticks to hold it down. After successfully securing my tent, I retreated inside to get warm. Aaaand three times now I’ve left my tent to fix a flapping side where the stick didn’t hold.
The worst part of tent sleeping in the rain is having to pee. You can’t pee IN the tent… but you can’t pee right outside of it either. So you have to drag your warm, dry ass out of the tent… Without moving too much to undo the “stick stakes”… and pee. Worse stilllllll is squatting on a slope, loosing your balance and falling flat on your bare ass into cold leaves and who know what else! I just did this. My next shower is on Friday. Gross.
So yes, Sad Panda Day it is indeed.
P.S. Vienna sausages are gross.
DAY 08, March 23rd
Sassafras Gap – Dick’s Creek Gap
If yesterday was Sad Panda Day, then today is Happy Panda Day!
The awesome people at Top of Georgia Hostile reserved rooms for us! I had originally planned to skip it and continue to Franklin, NC for a zero day (a day of no hiking). After arriving at Dick’s Creek Gap Gabe and Nate talked some sense into me and I ended up at the hostile.
At first you may picture this Hostile as a cult. When I walked into the lobby, there were three people dressed in scrubs all sitting separate at long tables… very insane asylum feeling going on. Buuuut it’s actually a pretty sweet place, they give you scrubs to wear while they do your laundry and have shuttles to take you to town. Just don’t pay the $8 for their breakfast! Anywho, we went into town where we had a kick ass burger and some beer. Nate and Gabe made Barbie a backpack and I gave a midget $10. Did I mention we were wearing the scrubs?
Some of our fellow Warrior Hikers arrived at the hostile and the shenanigans began. Wine, cigarettes and a camp fire… And scrubs 🙂
Happy, elated, awesome Panda.
P.S. I’m totally buying a set of scrubs when I get home.
DAY 09, March 24th
Dick’s Creek Gap – White Oak Stamp
Whelp, today is Dumbass Panda Day! You want to know what happens when you try to hang with the cool kids??? You get a hangover that you have to sweat out while doing major elevation gains. NOT SMART. I seriously thought I wasn’t going to make it up the first incline. A bottle plus more of wine and a half pack of cigarettes does not a good hiker make!
Gabe gave me a snickers bar about 4 miles in that I’m pretty sure saved my life. I smelled like hell as I sweat out all the toxins for most of this morning… this stench isn’t going away any time soon!
We did pass into NC today though! Yaaay!
P.S. Snickers are hiker crack!
DAY 10, March 25th
White Oak Stamp – Betty Creek Gap
It seems like the days are starting to mesh together. Today I listened to my audio book for nearly the entire hike. I only stopped it when I met back up with Stabby Nate (the Nates have temporary trail names so we can tell them apart), Gabe and occasionally Chaps (that’s what I call the Chaplain… He goes by Trail Pilgrim but everyone else deemed him Lucifer). Oh and Caitlin caught up to us today at the camp site. It was a very very pleasant surprise to finally get to hike with her. She’s been hanging back with Nasty Nate who’s knees aren’t doing so well :(.
It was cold and wet today but the scenery was gorgeous. Lush green trees, bright green moss on the rocks and tons of tiny water falls. It’s my longest mileage to date, but also the prettiest.
It’s raining again but it’s a pleasant sound on my tent. I found a little cove of trees to set my tent under so hopefully I won’t be too wet tomorrow. Rain isn’t a big deal until you have to set up or tear down your tent… Then it just plain sucks!
Tomorrow we head into Franklin, NC so no complaining here!
P.S. I think the blisters under my tape broke. Tomorrow is going to be scary!
DAY 11, March 26th
Betty Creek Gap – Franklin, NC
I miss my daughter. Today has been a really good day but I can’t get Paityn’s bouncy blonde curls out of my head. There are times when I get tunnel vision and lost in my own thoughts but today is not one of them. I keep thinking about whether or not I made the right decision leaving her once again. There are two couples out on the trial with their four-year-olds but that’s not something I can imagine putting Paityn through. I just hope that at the end of the day she doesn’t see this as me abandoning her but rather setting an example of pursuing your dreams.
On a less serious note, after I separated from Joel and Stabby Nate after stopping for a snack, I got a great view of Joel in a shelter privy! Privacy is a thing of the past.
Oh, trail entertainment! I met back up with Joel and Stabby Nate at Wallace Gap. When I saw them sitting in camping chairs sipping Pepsi and eating chips, I couldn’t help but join the trial magic. An awesome man who goes by the trail name Tabasco and his beautiful dog Max were serving trail magic from the back of his pickup truck.
We decided to hitch a ride with the Budget Inn shuttle into Franklin, NC. After an interesting mix up with the Budget Inn and Sapphire Inn owner/front desk workers, we (Joel, Stabby Nate & I) settled at the Sapphire Inn. A quality place it is indeed!
We were gorging ourselves on Mexican food and margaritas when Caitlin and Gabe showed up. An awesome evening ensued! Our generous neighbors gave us two handles of whiskey and an endless supply of beers… the trail is no place for clean eating! I’m learning this very quickly.
I’m in a warm bed and in good company tonight.
P.S. We reached 100 miles today… whoo hoo!!!
DAY 12, March 27th
Today is our first Zero Day. It may not seem like we’ve done a lot so far but my feet and neck are in desperate need of NO hiking. We have been walking though! We relocated from the Sapphire Inn to the Days Inn after walking to an awesome home-style breakfast at Lois’ Restaurant. Then we had lunch at Sephora… cucumber saketini and sashimi is an awesome combo. On our walk back to the Inn, we found $5 moonshine! Whoo hoo. A sweet lady gave me a ride to the Outfitter where I picked up the package Griff sent me… I finally have a camera case!!! Awesome photos will follow :).
So apparently Franklin, NC has the coolest friggggin’ VFW members ever! Tonight we had pizza and drinks at the VFW and it felt like home… well it did until they kept feeding us drinks and then it felt like a party! I met some incredible people today. A retired Chief and his wife took us to the next bar where shockingly talented Karaoke and not so talented dancing ensued. Needless to say, I absolutely love this group!!!
P.S. It’s snowing. Looks like tomorrow will be another zero
DAY 13, March 28th
It’s going to be hard for another town to compare to Franklin, NC! When we first arrived here I was not impressed by the seemingly small rundown town, but then we met the people.
This morning we were invited to attend the Vietnam Veteran’s of Macon County’s honorary event. One of our members, Rob, is a Vietnam Vet who got to walk in the parade. It was a big day for all of us. We followed the event with a BBQ lunch at the American Legion. We were joined by some of the previous day’s VFW members, the Vietnam Veterans and the Legion members. The Misty Mountains Quilter’s Guild honored us by presenting us with Quilts of Valor.But the day didn’t stop there… After a quick radio interview, the Veterans took us to their local Memorial Park with an escort provided by the Patriot Guard.
Today was an emotional and busy day, but it was a huge reminder to all of us why we’re doing this. I think I can speak for my fellow Warrior Hikers when I say the people of Macon County will be hard to beat!
We’re back to the woods tomorrow. Our bags are packed and weighed down heavily with resupply but we’re ready. Happy Hiking!
P.S. We were in the Franklin Paper 🙂
DAY 14, March 29th
Winding Stair Gap – Cold Spring Gap
Today has been a day of serious confusion. Six of us started out at 7:30 this morning in 20ish degrees from Winding Stair Gap. It was sooooo flipping cold. When we started hiking we decided s a group to stop at the first shelter we came to and take a nap. Since I was so damn cold I went ahead of the group to warm up.
When I came to the shelter sign, I followed it. And kept going and kept going until I finally dropped my pack and started up a side trail to find it. After a failed attempt, I came back to my bag to find Stabby Nate making coffee. He then took another side trail to find the shelter. After yet another failed attempt, we decided to keep walking. A few miles in we found another shelter sign. Nate dropped his pack and followed the side trail while I looked up the location on my phone. Failing agaaaain to find the damn shelter, we just kept walking. Eventually we found Nasty Nate laying shoeless in a field so now we had three of our group of six back together.
We met Trail Chef (a man of many professions who is currently a personal chef) at Wayah Bald when we stopped for lunch. We welcomed him into our group and pressed on. Nate and I decided to take a privy break at the next shelter where we again lost Nasty Nate and then Trail Chef too. We finally caught up with Trail Chef who said Nasty Nate was ahead of us. Since it was nearly dark, Nate took off ahead of my to catch him and find a place to set up for the night… I didn’t think I’d make it before dark.
After walking uphill for what seemed like an eternity, I decided they’d found somewhere and I was alone for the night. Just as I was imaging myself mad and all by my lonesome, Nate came back down the hill. He still hadn’t found Nasty Nate.
We ended up camping along with Trail Chef. Nasty Nate, Chaps, Caitlin and Gabe are MIA.
P.S. Moonshine should definitely not take precedence over water! Confusion and exhaustion is the only outcome.
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