Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 15 Asheville here I come

After barely sleeping and coughing all night (three of us coughed quite a bit actually) I was thankful to get out of the moldy Budget Inn. I seriously contemplated sleeping on the pavement last night. Oh the things you are reduced to or willing to do. If Fall wasn't so sound a sleep I might have asked him if I could sleep on his hammock outside. This room was much worse than the room we had the first night. It was filled with that stale smoke smell and the mold in the bathroom shower was no joke. I always wear my cocs in the showers at these places. Talk about jumping out of your comfort zone, I usually such a germaphobic person. So over it now. Just still careful but this trip has been great to actually help loosen me up. I am so much more laid back already. Hiking seems to show you how small you are in the world and it allows you to stop trying to control so much in your life and helps you learn to go with the flow. Or at least for me it has. It is amazing to me how much I have changed how I view things in just two weeks. I can understand now the transformation that occurs when you are out here, wish I could continue down this journey right now, but it will have to wait.

Up and said my goodbyes to Sasquatch and Admiral Caboose, I will miss them, two great guys from California. I seem to be in a group of people from Cali. I used to live there once upon a time when I was a kid and was planning a visit this year, now it looks like I will have more friends to see.

Fall and Oats wanted to come with me, so first we headed off for breakfast and some coffee, I just needed to be out of that room for a while. Felt much better once I was, so we just sat at the local McDonald's and put our feet up had some coffee and talked to other hikers. I caught up with the Godfather here and Die Hard. Also, a local who was out last night, he offerred us a place to stay and a ride if we needed one. Another kind gesture, but we were fine and going to just walk up to the Outdoor 76. At most it was only a mile, which is a skip in the park now. We also grabbed a few things from the Dollar General. I wanted something to snack on and food for the trip home tomorrow. I am getting good at saving on food by shopping here. Another change. I am a lot less picky.

We go to Outdoor 76 and I met a bunch of hikers I haven't seen in a few days. It is great to see those familiar faces. I saw Ashley and Corey and we caught up. I also saw a lot of faces from the Top of the Georgia Hostel. I can't remember all their names but it was good to see them too. We went to grab a beer while I waited for Corey  was going to drive me to Asheville to a car rental company out of his way free of charge, this is an hours drive. I LOVE LOVE this place. Please if you hike or go to Franklin, pay them a visit. While enjoying some conversation I looked and realized that Tricks and Aquaman were in the bar too. I was so happy to meet them, Tricks and I have been following and communicating via Instagram and FB. It was good to meet her before I was off trail for a bit. Then Corey came and got me and it was time to go. Fall walked me out, gave me a big hug and kiss, spun me around and we were off. Farewell Franklin it was fun!

Corey and I chatted a lot of business and personal things. The trip went fast, he is a great guy and thanks again man if you are reading this for helping me out, it was a pleasure.

I pick up my rent and on to a hotel somewhere in Asheville, I can't find a hotel I am comfortable in alone before I realize I am not on the better side of town, I quickly find one on priceline and ah.. much better. This place is like a resort compared to the Budget, just what I needed. I had a long bath and relaxed and enjoyed my cozy cushy bed and of course a coke. :)

Another great day! Life is good!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 14 Part 2

Urgent Care said I had a infected bug bite and I was having an allergic reaction to it, so off to walk to the Pharmacy to get my Rx filled. Inside I saw Easy Day, he was talking to a gentleman who worked their and was helping him with a knee issue. He told me he thru hiked in '79 and that his daughter thru hiked last year, her name was Megandangerpants. WHAT, I said I know her, well I follow her on Insta and we have chatted a few times about the trail. He calls her and I talk to her, how funny! He was super sweet and gave us a ride back to the hotel. TRAIL MAGIC,  again! SO much magic and small acts of kindness out here.

We get to the Budget Inn, Sasquatch and Admiral Caboose have graciously allowed us to stay with them and it is time to get cleaned up to go out with the gang. It is Karoake night! WHOOP WHOOP!

Tarheel '79

Tarheel's car, he made us sit for a pic :)

Sasquatch, Peep show ( can't remember others.. sorry guys, they are hikers I just met)

Right on Sweeps!

Gulliver, Firefox and Odysseus

Fall & Oats, Tiger Djin, Tang, Muscadine, Bennett, Gator, Chuck, Sweeps, Sasquatch, Gulliver, Admiral Caboose, Me

Chuck, DQ, Sweeps, Sasquatch, Admiral Caboose, Me, Fall & Oats, TIger Djin and Tang

Tang belting out Guns and Roses and gets a standing ovation and high fives after

Gulliver, Me, Tesla and Sasquatch

Tiger Djin, throws down some Billy Idol

Chewbacca had Johnny Cash for us

20+ hikers take over the local watering hole known as Mulligans for Karoake night. Some belted their hearts out and others cheered on. This was my last night with the gang and in town. It was celebration time. I bought a round of shots for the group we toasted and headed off to Mixers for some pool and more dancing, juke box music and shenanigans. We walked our selves home, bc this is what we do best and passed out. Needless to say the bonds have been growing and I am going to miss these crazy cats. :) They all rock and I can't wait to come back and hike and do trail magic.

XO and lots of cuddle puddles!


Day 14 Franklin Part 1

I woke up and my arms and legs were covered with a few strewn out bug bites that had been pretty itchy since being on Sassafras Mountain. However, one was more than itchy it was forming a red circle around it and it seemed to be expanding. I was almost sure that it was a biting gnat that caused it and not a tick but it was certainly inflamed. I was excited to see some of our friends coming into the Budget via Ron Haven's pick up at 9 a.m. I saw DQ, Sweeps, Odysseus, Nick ( now Gulliver), Admiral Caboose, Sasquatch, Too Long, Remedy, Gatorade & Hot spitz. I was pretty happy to see every one. I was on the phone and learning that it was going to be another day before I could get out of town and not until tomorrow evening would I even be able to get to Asheville to pick up a car to head home. It looked like I was extending my journey a little longer, I am so sad. :)

In the interim Fall and Oats found out that our room was given away after they told me the day before they don't give away rooms until people check out. Oh well, we packed up and had offers from two fellow hikers who had rooms to stay with them so we weren't too worried. I needed to get over to Outdoor 76 to talk to Corey the owner in person just to make sure I was assured a shuttle ride to Asheville. So we packed up our things, went and hit the dollar general and I got a coffee from
Mc Donalds and we walked back in town to the Outdoor 76. Wow, what a FANTASTIC place. These were the nicest people on the trail without a doubt. They were also known as the foot specialists , so I bought some new kicks because I learned that my shoes were too small and hence why all the blisters and my toe issues. This place was awesome! While fixing your feet and giving you better shoes/insoles they served up cold CRAFT Beers. They had a special room with a bar and walls for the hikers to sign, a tv and restroom and a few tables with chairs and stools, I mean honestly I had my food bag, I was set and could easily stay here happily. Overnights allowed?! Almost everyone showed up or hung out or came in to see them. At one point there were five or six of us hikers sitting around one such specialist learning all about feet, hiking and how injuries occur. Many of us found this very helpful.

Checking in to pick up a parcel and get directions around town, Corey the owner helps out

Remedy signing the wall

Osirus "O" signing the wall

Taste testing the craft beers with Too Long (formerly,Beef Jerky Pie) and Remedy

Muscadine and Tang! Muscadine was eying up this shirt yesterday, he made it his today! You know a hiker likes something when they are willing to up their pack weight with it. :)RAWR RAWR!

 The staff took a look at my bite and said I should have it looked at and before I knew it I was off to have to urgent care on a free shuttle offered by staff. This place was so kind, they gave us several free Shuttles while I was there.

Day 13

I tossed and turned and wasn't feeling great overnight, I was starting with what I could tell was going to be more than just a head cold. Most of camp was still a sleep. We slowly got up and got to breaking down camp. Fall and Oats went to grab us some water while I worked on packing up the inside of the tent, we had this team work thing down. It made life much simpler sharing the duties that otherwise when I was hiking alone would take longer. Fall ate some breakfast with the group,at the fire ring and I worked on filtering some water into my Platypus so I could add some Gatorade and for an extra punch of sugar to get me going I also added some raspberry propel, YUM. We drink so much out here, just water gets boring and you need the sugar and calories.

I told Fall and Oats I wasn't well and I would need to go back to Deep Gap, since it was my easiest way off the trail and I really needed to be getting back to Maryland and it was going to be tough enough to make arrangements from Franklin I could not be on the trail another night as much as I would like to. He volunteered to go with me and double back miles over Standing Indian to the Gap if we could find a ride. Things are never certain out there, but you just move forward and have faith things will work out or you just wing it. Not knowing if we could get a ride from Deep Gap, we knew it looked like a better choice than other places. It was just a matter if anyone would be coming today to that area on the forest service road.

I spoke to some section hikers who agreed that was my best bet since coming from the other direction. We would have had 20 to 26 miles otherwise and more than a days hike. We met up with the boy scouts we had heard about at the shelter they were also heading in that direction and said if they had room they would give us a ride. It didn't sound promising though and they didn't seem to eager to help. We started our climb almost immediately back over the 5,000 foot mountain that would take some time as it was a few miles long. When we got to Standing Indian Mountain because of a clearing and elevation I was able to get a small signal between trees. This is like those commercials "can you hear me now" that is IF the call ever goes through. Well it did and I was able to get a shuttle to come for $50. Shuttles are not cheap. When we got the gap our ride was there and so were three other hikers ready to share it with us, Tiger Djin, Tang and Muscadine. Three super nice guys also going into town and hikers. Tiger Djin is from Chicago and Tang and Muscadine are both from North Carolina. We were dropped at Ron Haven's Budget Inn, OH WHAT a place!

Last major white blaze I saw or noticed before the gap while shedding some tears of sadness to leave the trail, my friends and trail family. What an amazing time! I will be back!

Me, Muscadine and Tang enjoying our ride into town

Tang dancing with the poor mans speaker at the Budget

No words

They only had two rooms left, perfect for the five of us. We unloaded our gear and the first thing I wanted and saw was a COKE, I can't explain the joy of this when I don't normally drink soda, but on the trail there is just something so new and good about it. Very refreshing, literally is the best drink for me when coming to town. Apparently we got lucky on our room it was one of the nicer ones. It didn't have a lot of mold growing we had sheets with wholes in them but no dirt in them. YUP, now I think you are getting the idea of where the word Hikertrash comes from. We are like hobos of the trail, trying to save money because we are essentially homeless, me only for a few weeks but most thru hikers are homeless and have to make their money stretch for 4-6 months. This teaches so many things, but most of all how to appreciate everything life has to offer and yet we still come away knowing that any bad day on the trail is still better than a day in normal life. Crazy as that may sound, it is so true. You would have to try living it to understand.

Today was turning out to be another great day. I caught up with Brett and Adam who were rooming next to  for the night. Hung out with Tiger Djin, Tang and Muscadine who graciously shared beers and pizza from Vinnie's.  Doug Prime and Wild Turkey showed up too. We did laundry and relaxed as I tried to find arrangements to get home, but most of everything was closed so I was going to have to put this on hold until tomorrow. Later we were visited by Brett who dropped some more pizza to us, everyone is so gracious out here. We shared beers and music and good times and I topped the night off with sitting in Fall and Oats hammock outside my dirty hotel room with my beer and pizza and quickly fell a sleep for a bit.

Best rest spot all night, Fell a sleep right here