The Journey Continues
By 6:00 I was awake and ready to all four it from my hacienda. The first of the hikers were pulling out of camp. Those are normally the ones who can hike a bazillion miles a day and plan on reaching Katahdin before they need to change their underwear. As for me I was happy to still be out on the trail and for the moment was happy with my slow progress. Fruit Loops was my cereal of the day and I found myself pulling out of camp along with most of the others at 07:15. It was immediately up a mountain and I found myself hiking with SnapChat and Spider.
Into the Meadow with SnapChat and Spider
They both had easily passed me the day before but I tagged along knowing that when the moment came you just wouldn’t be together. No words are spoken…… you just get a few feet in front… and then a curve in the trail in front… and then a long straight way….. and then poof!!!!!!……gone! Sometimes to be seen again and other times not. That is the state of affairs with a solo hiker…. obviously folks hiking together stay together.
The True Meaning of Leanto
We worked our way across the meadow enjoying the farmland view. These places always seem so peaceful with just the sound of the birds announcing our presence to the rest of the wildlife.
A Momentary View Through the Canopy
The canopy of foliage has been constant so in spite of the fact that we literally are hiking from one mountain top to the next we seldom see the view below. In the time it took me to take this picture SnapChat and Spider were gone.
Well I’ll Be…..There They Are!
Through some miracleI I managed to catch them. “I knew you’d catch us” Snapchat offered. If she only knew I haven’t even been able to catch my own tail on this hike.
Snapchat and I developed a quick friendship as we hiked especially when we discovered that we had eight children between us. She was about to get off the trail ( that day in fact) in order to take them to the beach.
Nothing Wrong with These Feet!!
She told me that her feet were still hurting and that now she was developing a new blister. If blisters need friend blisters her feet were golden. Her feet were bandaged and taped from one end to the other. Back in Oconee Memorial Hospitals Emergency room we see dozens of people with less problems than this…….. and these feet were hiking the Appalachian Trail!
The Joys of Hiking
It must be important that no matter how mangled you become it’s imperative that an expert female hiker maintains proper nail polish. After all you wouldn’t want some bear being disgusted by a poor pedicure while he’s chomping on you.
One More Chunk of Tape a Success!
Spider had spent 17 years managing a Home Depot before he moved onto different things. He was quick with the quips and often kept everyone smiling……or shocked. I found that he was also getting off of the trail on this day. In his case he has a son in the Marine Corps who is returning home from an African deployment. Once he is with him he does does plan to come back. He says that he told all of his friends that he was going to hike from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Damascus, Virginia. Everyone of them said “You’re nuts! You can’t do it!” He did it plus an extra 73 for good measure. So there!!!!!
Defib and SnapChat as she’s Leaving the Trail
Along this section of the trail it passes the U.S. Forest Center Welcome Center. I wouldn’t venture to say that it was especially welcoming. Every guy that came out of there said, “That guy was a real SOB!” Then Snapchat joined us…..”Gee that guy was really nice!” But they did have really neat toilets that flushed, a drink machine that the guy wouldn’t give change for, and a place to charge our phones. I ended up buying some beef jerky in order to get change. We just don’t carry change out here……. it’s heavy!
All of the hikers here opted (except Hawkeye and I) along with Spider and Snapchat to take a shuttle into Marion, Virginia either for lunch or a nero. It would mean the loss of about three hours. At my pace rate I couldn’t afford the loss of time. Snapchat and Emily said their Goodbyes before moving on. Emily began the hike with a girlfriend who evidently decided that this was not her cup of tea. She is now hiking with Nate who is the X marine who spotted the snake in the rafters.
Tapioca, Head Shrinker and Spider Cooling Their Jets
Hawkeye and I decided to join forces and order a pizza. It seemed a novel idea…that is to have a pizza delivered to the Appalachian Trail. Minimum order? $30 American dollars…. and so…. we ordered two large pizzas for the two of us. It would mean time saved and full bellies. Hawkeye and I did not know one another but by the time we managed to down those huge pizzas we were bosom buddies!
Hawkeye the Pizza Ordering Guru
We, of course, ordered two large pizzas because we had to spend $30. My that was a lot of pizza. By my normal second slice I was full. I kept going knowing that it was my duty as an American to do the deed and inhale that sucker. I chewed until I could chew no more. On top of that the delivery guy didn’t leave any napkins and the toilets only had hand blow dryers. I had only been wearing my shorts for three days so they were clean by hiker standards. They became my napkin and the collector of all of the Supreme toppings that refused to stay on the pizza.
U.S. Forest Service Welcome Center on Trail Above Marion, Virginia.
Stan the Unusal Man
I attempted to hike with Hawkeye but he was too much for me. I once again found myself alone. Snapchat and Spider were on their way to their respective homes and I was finding myself…… well…..pizza heavy. Both Hawkeye and I had both managed to get Goldie (a new hiker who had arrived on the scene) to down one piece from each of our pies. I finally placed that last two pieces in a Ziplock to enjoy later.
As I was traveling up a mountain I came upon Stan who approached me from the opposite direction. He has lived “in these here parts” for 26 years and day hikes almost daily. There was a strange vibe going on here. He offered to show me how to walk. I told him that my brother Barry had already trained me on that account but thanks anyway. I finally accepted a package of Oreos which made him exceedingly happy. It was a good trade…… I love Oreos but they need a glass of milk with them.
Finally the Top of Glade Mountain
Glade Mountain was the last high hurtle before the arrival at Chatfield Shelter. I was so very thirsty. I could not drink enough! The pizza was good but salty. My gray shirt was now white from sweating salt.
Walker Mountain in the Distance
Finally I arrived at Chatfield Shelter. Hawkeye had long ago set up his hammock and was busy writing in his log. With him was Cedric who had passed me earlier as I was sitting on a log talking to my mother and regretting a large pizza. Cedric was on a day and overnight hike to “work some things out”. The one thing that he had worked out was that he had also met Stan who wanted to teach him how to walk. He didn’t get any Oreos. About a hour later a country gal appeared and set up her tent. “You know what? I met the strangest man today who wanted to teach me how to walk!”
That was too much wondering for me. I had the Oreos and no one was getting any of them from me. I needed the emotional strength they provide to hike on…… even without milk.