Today was opening day for Major League Baseball. It is my first opening day without my brother. One passion that we shared has always been baseball. We would have talked often over the past two months about the Atlanta Braves off season trades, and tonight we certainly would have exchanged phone calls during the Braves 7-5 win over the Phillies. I won’t watch a game all season without thinking about him.
After a fairly good night’s sleep in the shelter, I awoke to the sounds of others packing up to get an early start. It was town day. All hikers look forward for the opportunity to leave the rigors of the trail behind for a day with a respite back in civilization. Those at the shelter where I stayed last night were no exception. Blissful and the Raisin Bran Kid were the first two to depart, followed closely by Maddy and Whiskers. I lingered for a while enjoying conversation with Hammy, Storytime, and El Gato. Hammy gave me a hug after I told her about Don. Every time I’m asked about my trail name, my response draws sincere compassion from all.
I finally took off on today’s hike around 8:30. The initial terrain was very flat although still extremely muddy. I hiked quickly, passing El Gato on the climb out of Wallace Gap. Later I also passed Hammy and Storytime as well as Packrat, a young kid who had arrived at the shelter last night after everyone was asleep. Other than meeting a few southbound section hikers, I only saw one other thru hiker, Strider. Strider arrived on the trail at 336 pounds, determined to lose weight. He told me he had already lost 20 pounds and is determined to keep moving up the trail.
Around 11:00 I walked into Winding Stair Gap to meet Rob, the former owner of a hostel in Dalton, MA, who has recently located to the south. He had a cooler full of cold beverages in the back of his pickup to offer to all. Several other hikers were hanging out in the parking lot, either waiting for shuttles or preparing to head up the trail. As I was drinking my ice cold trail magic soft drink, a van pulled up to let out a hiker. I asked the driver of the van, Pam, if she was going back into Franklin. She said that she was and that she would gladly give me a ride. Actually, she is the girlfriend of another thru hiker, Stupid, who was there to see off his friend . Stupid planned another zero day in Franklin before resuming his hike. When Pam asked my trail name, she said that she had been reading my journal from its beginning. I greatly appreciated the lift that Pam and Stupid gave me to the Microtel in Franklin. I certainly hope I see Stupid again up the trail.
After checking in I spent the rest of the day doing town chores. I did my laundry and spent some time catching up on my writing. Tomorrow I’ve scheduled my first zero day for rest. Even though my legs feel great, I promised myself that I’d take a day off about every ten days to two weeks. It’s been a very good first 10 days. I’ve covered 109.8 miles and stayed vertical 9 out of 10 days. I’m looking forward to a day off tomorrow, but I’m also looking forward to Wednesday when I will resume my hike on the Appalachian Trail.