Week 1: The Fellowship and The Four Trials
What an incredible week as I enter Day 11. I had a fun week of 100 miles to the GA/NC border and beyond. Along the way, I met “The Fellowship”. It began at mile 27.9 when a weary, rained-out Barefoot found reprieve in hiking with two thru’s. As I wandered up Jarrad Gap, I got the sudden urge to rest while the rains turned to sleet amid forty mile per hour wind gusts. Having already dealt with the winds and soaked to the bone, my two thru-hiker companions, later to be known as Lembas and Strider, joined me in a search for shelter.
As we approached Woody’s Hole shelter, we met up with Nate, a section Hiker traveling the length of Georgia on Speing Break, and Planner, a thru-hiker aimed at big miles for the week. We rested and all five finished the 800 ft rise and fall of Blood Mountain before heading from Neel Gap to Blairsville for a hotel stay. Planner earned her name for the ability to find the sweetest deals and setting the pace for the week.
I had overcome 86 degree weather at Sassafras Mtn, thunderstorms and tornadoes at Blood Mountain, and snow on Tray Mountain. North Carolina saw wildfires a short distance from the trail and our section of the hike was closed as I exited.
Four mountains each with four trials.
As I entered the North Carolina section, the group concluded our almost sixty miles together. Nate would head home to his teaching job and pregnant wife; Strider would return home at only 100 miles; Lembas and Planner would continue “big miles”.
I would head for rest and recoup in Franklin, NC for my foot blisters, and I get a new set of shoes. Franklin had a way of sucking people into the twilight zone. So many of my pack, or bubble, collapsed among the beer-drinking, partygoers, and yellow blazers (those driving from town to town just to party).
What a fun adventure so far and eager to meet more in my quest for Katahdin. Thanks to The Fellowship for a week of great memories!
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