Today’s hike was as much about people as it was about the trail. It began with seeing Walker, whom I had not seen in three hundred miles, to being rescued by Snowball’s family, Anne and Eddie Blevins. In between the cast just kept increasing. Every day events occur that I never expect when the day begins. Today was no exception.
I walked out of the front door of the Montgomery Homestead Inn at 7:00 directly onto the trail which runs down Laurel St. When I got to Cowboy’s I stopped for a hearty breakfast. Inside I met for the first time Trucker and Z-Man. While we talking over breakfast, in strode Walker, a hiker from Atlanta that I had first met at the Aquone Hostel. A member of his family had commented at my website, so I was happy again to see the fellow Georgian. Trucker seemed interested in my journal, so the three of us talked about Don.
Lingering too long over my eggs and pancakes, it was a little after 8:00 before I continued the hike out of Damascus. Just as I returned to the trail Whiskers and Rocket were also starting, so I hiked along with them for part of the morning. After an early climb, the trail today resembled many other days of a walk through the woods. There were numerous water crossings; however, none proved difficult. Some required rock skipping while others had foot bridges. The sounds of the rushing waters were a constant companion for over an hour.
Twice today I met southbound section hikers that I told about my hike. Sandalwood and Alloy, from just north of Toronto, Ontario, are spending several days on the trail. Heart Walker and 2 Stent are fellow Georgian sectioners. 2 Stent, from Valdosta, said that his son graduated from Columbus State University. Both has previously been heart patients. I also passed and was passed back by Starman 28, a hiker from Vermont that I had seen a couple of days ago. Trucker and I leapfrogged throughout the day as well.
With a mild sunny day and gentle terrain, the miles zipped by. When I reached HWY 58, where I intended to end my hike today, Whiskers and Rocket were waiting by the road. They too had decided to return to Damascus. Having been told by someone in town that this was an easy hitch, I had not arranged for a shuttle. After trying for about half an hour I realized that the info had not been accurate. Finally, I suggested that if I walked farther up the road perhaps the two of them could get a ride.
This is where the rescue commenced. When I finally came upon a rural home, two dogs greeted me at the roadside. Seeing their owners in the yard, I asked to use their phone to call a shuttle, since I had no cell service. After that option failed I asked if I could pay the folks to drive me to Damascus. They were kind enough to agree as long as I didn’t mind sharing the backseat with Snowball, a part border collie with about as pleasing a personality as I have ever encountered in a dog. He provided good company as did Anne and Eddie on the ride into town. The conversation moved from their Christmas tree farm to a rental property to Eddie’s fishing. When I showed Eddie the picture of Don and the big bass, he seemed impressed. I think Eddie and my brother would have hit it off immediately, and I know Don would have taken a liking to Snowball. I can’t thank the couple (and Snowball) enough for the ride. They were true trail angels, refusing to take any money for the ride.
After arriving back at the inn I tried to call Whiskers. Since his phone went to voice mail, I assume he and Rocket decided to camp. After my call, another people moment occurred. While I was sitting in the parlor looking over possible itineraries for tomorrow, another hiker arrived. She introduced herself as Journey, thru hiker from 2003 and friend to my friend, Switchback. Also a member of the trail journal community, it was special meeting her.
My final people encounter of the day occurred during supper at the Blue Blaze Cafe. While dining, Journey asked if I knew a hiker who was seated behind me. When I turned around, to my surprise it was The Raisin Bran Kid. I hadn’t seem him since the day before Franklin. Kid came over to explain that he was dealing with an injury. A postal worker from Ohio, he expressed frustration over having to curtail his miles. I was sorry to hear of his problems, but it was still great to see the Kid again.
So now I’m planning my tomorrow, a day when rain is in the forecast. Every day is a new day, so once again, there’s no way to know what awaits the northward journey on the Appalachian Trail.