Enough downtime! One could get too used to that! Eating, warmth, clean…. how foreign. We all met back at Winding Stair Gap and this time Martha, Pam Pettigrew, and Melvin Roberts were doing doing trail magic. Along the way we found No Name Memorial.
Soon after this we met up with Martha, Pam and Melvin. I filled my pockets with oranges as we all said our goodbyes before today’s projected 16 mile hike. Several other hikers joined us before we got on the trail.
No Name, Silver and Defib.
Across the highway we went. It would be a 4.2 mile climb to the spur trail to Siler Bald. I felt like a combo of BBQ, Asian Ribs, and a very large hamburger. I would definitely need to work my way back into this!
The 4.2 miles rose steadily. I soon heard someone behind me and was pleased to see that it was Bear Bait. She hurried past me in order to find the others. I actually caught up with Cindy, Patti, and Stacey from Oconee County. We talked a moment and agreed to meet at the Bald.
Just before reaching the spur I came upon a man in front of me with spindly legs and long stocking with shorts. His right knee would practically touch his left leg with every step. At the spur we had to go around a fallen tree in a hillside of mud. He slipped and stumbled toward the tree. I thought that he was a goner but he deftly righted himself and made it to the grassy area. It was there that I got to meet Pappy. A famed hiker who has conquered the triple crown. He first hiked the AT in 1996 when he was 65. He is doing it again at the age of 87. No vehicle assistance… no one carrying his gear or cooking his meals. He’s the full deal! Born in Lithuania he’s quite a character and wherever he went the hikers wanted to hear his story and get a picture with him.
Hiking with him was Timeless. A wonderfully positive man. He waited patiently as Pappy had to tell his story over and over. It reminded me of the fellow at The Killing Fields jail in Cambodia who spent his days telling of his experience. Here is Timeless.
I had managed to catch Silver and No Name once on the trail but that was only because of their fascination with this Gap name. It was especially significant for a man wearing a kilt.
At the spur they (and later me) dropped packs and walked the extra half mile up to the top of Siler Bald. The view was stunning and it turns out that No Names sister had been married up there. We were in one spot again for the moment.
Ebb, my Kindness Rock made an appearance on the summit.
It was time to go. By that time Cindy, Patti, and Stacey were with me. We talked for awhile and walked together back down the mountain to my pack. It was time to hike.
If was a steady downhill from there to Wayah Gap. Along the way I met Pace Car and Buck who I would end up seeing several times that day.
At 5.6 miles I ran into trail magic and hot dogs straight off the grill. The provider was My Friend who was a thru AT hiker and the director of a 911 communications center in New Jersey. Everyone was there including Pappy and Timeless. I biographer was there recording hiker stories. I interviewed with him.
From there it was a 1,000 foot climb to the top of Wayah Bald. I hiked for awhile with Pace Car (a Geologist) and Buck. We came upon Pappy and Timeless again who were making shockingly good time. We hid our embarrassment by hiding our heads. We had all stopped for a moment to shared a moment together and Pappy came flying by. “Hey Boys” he cheerfully called out as he passed us. Cyclops immediately got up and began hiking. “I just can’t let a man 61 years older than me beat me to the top of that mountain!”
Along the way I decided to grant Ebb his place to reside. The climb was wicked and “Never Give Up” seemed to be a perfect message here.
14 ounces lighter I continued to the top of Wayah. Cyclops and I had joined up. The top was shocking . The fire last year and burned away the top of the mountain including the tower. Cyclops is an ecologist and we talked about the benefits of the fire as we climbed up the final footage to the summit.
We were all together once again. Not for long! I kept pace with Siler, No Name and Bear Bait for about one foot. Six miles and many hills later I stumbled into Cold Stream Shelter and set up my tent. Dinner was ready as the sunny day became darkness. Hike on.