Milkshakes and trail magic cannabis
Bama to Baxter Day 31&32
Day 31: 2 miles
This morning was my second morning waking up on the Benton MacKaye Trail. Last night it rained a lot so I was grateful to have slept in a shelter. That made it a lot easier to pack up early in the morning and get to walking.
I only had to do 2 miles to get to US-76 where I was going to hitch into Blue Ridge, GA for the night. But I really wanted to rest as much as possible so I figured I’d hike out early to get to town early. The miles were cruisy and I wound getting to the road a little after 8:30 am.
It was a 60MPH highway so even though lots of cars were driving by I figured it would be a tough hitch. But a guy wound up pulling over for me after I waited about 10 minutes.
He was really nice and asked me a lot of questions about my original motivations for thru hiking. I told him about how in 2017 I was in college studying pre-med and realized that that wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. But I had no idea what it was that I did want to do. I learned of the Pacific Crest Trail during that transitional time in my life and for some reason I just knew that it was the thing I needed to do. I just decided that I was going to do it and I did it. So in between semesters of college I wound up hiking 1300 miles on the PCT and it was the best decision I ever made. I’ve been in love with thru hiking ever sense.
The man told me about how he was going through a similar transitional period. He talked about how he had always been so certain about his plan and direction in life, up until recently as least. He said that when he saw me on the side of the road he took it as a sign. That maybe somehow talking to me about my journey would help to give him some peace in his current situation. After driving me to Blue Ridge we spoke a bit longer in the car before I headed off.
From there I headed over to Dairy Queen to grab some breakfast. In Georgia Dairy Queens actually serve breakfast which is incredible. Then around 10am I walked over to the Comfort Inn to try and check in. And to my surprise I was actually able to check in early! That meant I could drop off my stuff and then walk to do my resupplying. The comfort inn was definitely a slightly more expensive hotel option but I had to choose strategically. Because Blue Ridge is such a big town I needed a hotel nearby everything. Plus it has laundry in house which is ideal.
The hotel was right next to Walmart so I headed there to resupply. Walmart rocks because it has grocery items, pharmacy items, and even some camping items. While I shopped I talked to my dad on the phone. Then back at the hotel I took a much needed shower. Doing 20 mile days the past 4 days had me unbelievably sweaty and gross. And after I was clean I walked down the street to an authentic Cuban food restaurant.
Cuban food happens to be one of my favorites so I was so excited. I got a massive spread of food. Rice, beans, sweet plantains, beef empanadas, and papa rellenas (which are my absolute favorite). Papa rellenas are like a fried mashed potato ball stuffed with ground beef.
I walked back to the hotel and feasted there. It was just the thing I needed. All of the other options in town were fast food which I wasn’t in the mood for. After I ate I wound up starting my laundry. Then I booked a shuttle service to get back to the trailhead for tomorrow. That way I don’t have to take the time to hitch like I did this morning. And I also booked my shuttle ride for later in the week to bring me from Springer Mountain to Amicalola Falls.
The rest of the night was super relaxing. I ate a ton of food, laid in bed, and watched TV before eventually falling asleep.
Day 32: 20 miles
This morning I woke up around 6:30 am and packed up my things. Then I went down to the continental breakfast at the hotel before getting my 8am shuttle ride back to the trailhead for the BMT. Before leaving the hotel I made myself some sandwiches to eat for lunch/snack over the course of the day as well. Truly a pro move right there.
A Blue Ridge shuttle service came to get me around 8am. The guy was really nice and dropped me off right where I needed to be. Then I got back to walking! I’m officially 3 days out from starting the Appalachian Trail, which is an absolutely wild feeling.
Over the course of the day I did a lot of climbing. But I can already feel myself getting stronger. After just a couple of days the climbs are already getting much easier. I took breaks every 4 or 5 miles and felt really good over the course of the day. At one point I even ran into another BMT hiker who was going north. I however am going south to Springer Mountain.
About 12 miles into the day the trail connected to a road and walked right down a street. I passed by a small restaurant and general store and couldn’t resist grabbing something to eat. I got a milkshake, a burger, and a coke. It was incredible. All of the people in the restaurant chatted me up about the trail and where I was coming from. It was a really nice way to spend my afternoon break.
When I finished up there I continued on. There was a bit more road walking but it was at least scenic. I followed along a river and past some beautiful cabin style homes. Then I began a pretty big climb back up from the road. I took my time and was surprised by my ability to continue climbing without stopping. And fortunately the climbs were a bit tiered, so you were literally going up, down, up, down. The reprieve was nice.
One of my final climbs of the day was up to a fire tower. I was particularly excited for this climb because a hiker that I met on the Pinhoti Trail had texted me to let me know that they left me a surprise there. So when I got to the top of the climb I excitedly rummaged through a pile of leaves only to find a small tupperware container of weed. If that’s not trail magic then I don’t know what is.
I continued along after that and did my final miles for the day. All in all today was a tough day but I was proud of how I performed. And it was awesome that I was able to enjoy a delicious meal and get in some bigger miles. At camp I ate yet another sandwich which I had premade for myself. Then I called it a night.
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