The Last View of Grayson-Highlands.
I awoke the next morning totally refreshed. I lounged around in my tent until 7 and then crawled out into the world ready to hike another 16+ mile day. A quick glance around assured me that my coyotes were long gone. They spooked so easily I was only privileged to view the butt end of the last one. At least with them gone all of the noise they make in a pack was also gone. My plan was to make it to Trimpi Shelter several mountains away. Along the way I stopped and took my last picture of the open ground within Grayson-Highlands Park.
Stogie of Georgia
I had the trail to myself for awhile. For a moment I fooled myself into thinking that I was once again a hiking machine. Being humbled comes easy out here. I was soon passed by a young man who was breezing along like he was on a rolling walkway. I’ve gotten used to that but don’t think that I don’t internally grumble a bit about it. I had camped 3.4 miles beyond the last Shelter so he had already made up that mileage and passed me. Soon I was faced with one of those climbs that make me wonder why I’m out here. Within seconds the thought of being a hiking machine were smashed to dust. I struggled to the top and there I found the young man who had passed me sitting on a log. His name was Stogie and he lived in Georgia about an hour and a half from Springer Mountain. Evidently a love of a good cigar had tabbed him with the trail name. He had just graduated from college and decided to hike the trail before beginning his career. I believe Chemistry was his major. His college roommate had begun the trail with him but by Neels Gap he’d had enough and quit. The others with him decided that they were going to do 30 mile days. He decided to solo it simply because he didn’t have a death wish and he actually wanted to see what was along the trail.
Forrester and Ed
As we spoke Ed arrived SOBO. He immediately asked if we were through hikers. “I love meeting and talking to through hikers. Today is my 80th birthday and I’m celebrating it with a 12 mile day hike.” At that moment Forrester, Spider, and Snap Chat joined us creating an instantaneous birthday celebration.
Defib and Ed: A Very Cool Ed
Of course, pictures were taken of the celebrity who lived in nearby Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. You meet the coolest people out here. Ed apologized…. “I don’t have a trail name because I’ve never hiked through the AT. I’ve always wanted to do that.” That didn’t matter to any of us that he didn’t have a trail name…….he provided a positive moment on the trail.
Comers Creek Falls
Stogie and Forrester were soon gone and I found myself hiking for awhile with Snap Chat and Spider. Snap Chap informed me that she had been tabbed with the name because she takes a lot of pictures and talks a lot.
She was hiking several hundred miles and Spider had planned to hike to Damascus but just kept going. She was very personable and she told me her feet were killing her and her knee was hurting. In spite of that they also left me in their dust. Good grief I’m slow! Helen Keller could probably out hike me. In high school I had joined the Nipmuc Regional High School track team. To this day it remains a mystery as to why I did that. I couldn’t run a lick. No matter what event I tried I finished a very solid last. After each event I remember slinking off into the crowd to become anonymous. This is like the glory days of being on that track team. Of course back then I actually got a letter for finishing last and I remember proudly seeing my girlfriend wear it on a sweater to school. I wonder if kids still do that.
Finally after what seemed an eternity I wandered into Trimpi Shelter. There must have been a convention going on or someone was giving away ice cream cuz the place was packed. I found a spot and set up my tent and was soon in the tent attempting to upload pictures for this story but with no luck. There was quite a lot of chatter up at the shelter and soon I heard them yelling about a mouse invasion. That caused some humor when someone bonked a mouse on the head with something. The tone changed however when they found a snake crawling into the shelter. Spider grabbed it and sent it on its way. About 30 minutes later everyone had dispersed to their sleeping spots when renewed screaming took place. Over the head above a former Marine in the rafters was a giant snake. It was hunting a mouse dinner. The exodus began. SnapChat and Emily came and set up their tent next to me. The marine and two others stayed in the shelter. I reminded myself that from then on I would avoid the commotion of shelters. I just wanted to “hike on”.
But I was quietly smiling …. these folks are quite amusing.