It proved to be a restless night. I slept intermittently, awaking about every half hour until around 4:00. Then I actually dozed without waking until almost 7:30. When I heard WILSON ( he prefers his trail name be stated emphatically) and Army Ant retrieving our food bags from the trees they had hung them last night, I began packing up inside the tent. My speed has quickly improved, so within half an hour I was packed and ready to hike. I joined the others around the fire ring for breakfast. They all cooked; I had cheese crackers and a few sips of coke I had bought before leaving Helen yesterday. I followed that with a Baby Ruth. The unofficial candy bar of the AT is Snickers; however, I’ve decided to eat the bar which brings back memories of Lou Gehrig’s teammate and baseball. Plus Don’s and my mother always enjoyed a Baby Ruth.
After filling up my water bottle and treating it with Aqua Mira, I began the half mile walk back up to the trail. I bid the others farewell, saying as I always do, ” I hope I’ll see you somewhere up the trail.” The hike began with another substantial climb which took a lot of stamina. I keep saying that I’ve got to so a better job with nutrition. I may need to call one of my good running buddies and ultra marathoner, John Teeples, for some more suggestions. I hike very strongly after a large town breakfast but tend to drag in the morning when starting the day with trail food.
I saw no other hikers until I crested the first mountain. It was there that I met an approaching southbound hiker wearing a University of Alabama baseball cap. Ghost said he had completed the AT in sections in 2002. When I told him I was from Columbus, Ghost stated, “I lived there 38 years.” The son of an elementary school teacher, who taught much of her career at Clubview, Ghost graduated from Jordan High School. It was good to discuss mutual friends right in the middle of the Appalachian Trail.
Later in the morning I once again encountered trail maintainer Rockkicker. He advised me to go ahead and call the Blueberry Patch Hostel from the trail since there is rarely reception from Dick’s Creek Gap. I had previously spoken to Gary, a former thru hiker who, along with his wife, offers bunks for hikers as a Christian ministry on a donations only basis. When I arrived at the gap there were several hikers waiting for shuttles or taking a break before heading back up the trail. Among them were Walmart and Kristen, a young lady from Montana who I hiked with up Blood Mountain. Walmart was dressed in all camo, which Don would have liked. Gary drove up soon after, and Kristen also rode with us to the hostel. After a shower and having my laundry done, Gary drove some others and me into Hiawassee. The others returned with him after a brief time in town. I decided to stay in town for a while.
I made my way to Daniel’s Steakhouse where I decided to partake of he AYCE buffet, a favorite of hikers. I’m still sitting here now trying to catch up on the writing. Layla, my waitress, has been most hospitable, filling my glass with sweet tea numerous times with a smile. She also listened with interest as I told her about Don and the website. I also talked with a local couple at the next table, who expressed an interest in my hike. Kathleen and Sal, I imagine, are representative of the fine people who reside in Hiawassee.
Well, it’s getting a little late by hiker standards, so I best have my desert and head to the grocery store. There are still things that need to be done before I hitch back to the hostel to rejoin the hiking community of the Appalachian Trail.