I woke up with the knowledge that we had a long way to go and I was hiking with Silver and No Name both of whom could hike me into oblivion.
As a result I forced myself from my rock mattress and made a double order of yummy oatmeal with maple goo in it. Before they could catch wind of what I was doing I was gone. I knew that they would soon be on my heels . I had a good pace toward Betty Creek Gap and had passed five hikers before the young lady from the day before came zooming by me. As a matter of fact that is her trail name now… Zoomer. My tent was next to her last night and it turns out that she is from Quebec, Canada.
The miles flew by and I passed several other hikers including Small Furry Animal. He was excited because we were using the same kind of mug. I soon found myself in an area of rhododendrons that had been burned in last years fires.
The sun was up and actually giving off heat. I found myself shedding clothing that I had been clinging to for days! We are so fickle…. too hot…. too cold….
About 11:30 I arrived at Mooney Gap a place I had done trail magic with Martha Roberts before. I knew that would be a problem…the next section would not be suitable for mankind. A climb to the top of Albert Mountain. A double yucker that would challenge the taste of protein bars for ugliness. I began the ascent … dreading it… the pack was heavy again. By noon I was at the top and at the 6.1 mile mark of my hike. I ate a dirt bar in celebration. At least the view was nice!
Soon I was joined by Duck, Silver, No Name and Bear Bait. I knew they could all leave me there pounding my fists in the dirt screaming for my mommy so I hiked on. Down the hill I went and almost missed the sign announcing where I was…..under the sign someone had made 100 with sticks. I should have been overjoyed knowing I’d come 100 miles but all I could think was that I’d have to do that again 21 times.
I trudged on knocking off miles knowing that at some point I would be bumping into Pamela Hembree and Jan Haney who were hiking in to meet me. I ran into Sasquatch a giant of a man who was wearing only a loin cloth. Mine were still cold….. his were advertising.
Within a mile I ran into Joe Gavalda who was hiking toward me. Was it ever great to see him!!!!! He said that Pam and Jan were about 15 minutes behind. That also meant that my new tent was here. We turned and worked our way down the mountain past Long Branch Shelter, and Glassmine Gap before finding Jan and Pam at Rock Gap Shelter. By the time we got there they were trail angel hero’s. Bananas and apples were in high demand! We joined forces and the reunion was over the top with introductions all around.
Soon we were joined by Silver, No Name and Bear Bait. More laughter ensued when we learned that Silver had dropped Bullet from his trail name when he was told last night by a former army medic that Silver Bullet stood for a rectal thermometer. Ha!!!
Silver…. formerly rectal thermometer.
The word was that there was a party going on in the highway 3.7 miles away!!!! That made everyone happy so we got our tired legs moving and attacked the mileage.
Bear Bait being happy!!!
With the completion of the 15.9 miles we joined a pile of happy hikers including many who had thru hiked in 2017 and were having a reunion. We once again ran into Marc and Brandon from Massachusetts and took a picture of the group who had been together for several days!!!
Bear Bait, Silver, Brandon, Marc, No Name, Defib.
Ron Aubert was there to meet us… it was perfect. He brought me a cold Root Beer and Twix!!!! We all piled into Jan’s Nissan and Ron’s truck and soon found ourselves at our favorite Franklin, North Carolina eating place. Fat Buddies. Real food! Happiness! Hike on!!