I woke at 5 am this morning and forced myself to rise and break camp. There was a shuttle to Franklin rumored to pick up hikers at 9am where the AT crosses route 64. It was 4 miles away and I was not sure how long it would take me to walk there. I packed by the light of my headlamp, shouldered my pack, and headed north in total darkness, following the nervous beam of my light.
The AT is so well trod that it was easy to find. The only time I got confused is where I crossed a road and had to search the other side for a blaze. I finally found the path, zigzagging up an embankment on a narrow ledge. It’s not something I would do on a regular basis, but it was kind of cool to see the lights of distant cities far below.
Daylight finally began to filter through and I made good time up over Winding Stair gap and down to the road. It was only 8am when I reached the parking lot, so I resigned myself to wait for an hour. As luck would have it, five minutes later a camper from Canada pulled in, it was Spot and Starcraft whom I had met before. She was dropping her husband off for a section of the AT and offered to give me a ride onto town – a gift of trail magic for sure.
The rooms at the motel were not ready yet so I walked to a nearby McDonalds for breakfast. Restaurant food, even fast food, tastes wonderful after several days of noodles and constant exercise. By the time I finished breakfast, my room was ready and I enjoyed a hot shower and then went for a walk up town.
The outfitter’s salesman talked me out of buying a new sleeping bag. We both agreed that it will be warning up soon and I would be mailing the new bag home (Karen’s). I did mail a pair of heavy fleece pants and bought a new Patagonia puff jacket. It’s pretty stylish so I can wear it after the hike, too.
I’m sort of getting an idea of what I like to eat on the trail. I bought a small bottle of red pepper to spice up my noodle dishes, and of course I pack lots of snack food, mainly Rice Crispy Teats and granola bars.
Tomorrow I will get back on the trail again. The Smokey’s are only about 50 miles away. I know there is no cell service in the park and very little in the Nantahala Mountains before there so updates may be sparse. I changed the blog title because several people have asked me about it. They know me as Castaway and it will be easier to find it with a Google search.