Day mileage: 3.8 mi
AT total mileage: 69.8 mi
Time: 1.5 hours
I will first say that today did not go as planned. The intentions being to hike through to North Carolina. Kevin and I had talked last night about hitchhiking down into the local (11 miles away from the trail head) Hiawassee, GA. From the campsite, it was 3.8 miles to the road, which we covered in an hour and a half. My knee is still giving me pains on downhills, which a lot of this was, but knowing we'd be in a town to resupply was a good feeling. From camp, it was exceptionally foggy and cold, with temperatures in the 30s. Half way through our hike the sun started peeking through, and eventually the fog burned off leaving us with a beautiful morning. Towards the bottom of the trail we ran into a gentleman named Dr. Pepper and his friend, who gifted us with 'trail magic' consisting of a zip lock bag with candy, as well as the offer to open the cooler in the back of their pickup truck to get a cold soda at the roadside parking lot. We snapped a few photos with them, and headed the remaining 1/4 mile to the road. Their cooler had Root Beer & Coca-Cola, of which my choice is of course the latter. Those who know, however, are familiar with the fact that I gave up Coca-Cola a year ago last May. So on May 6th of this year I plan on enjoying one again, but until then.... I drank a Root Beer. And for reference, a 'Nero' day stands for 'near-zero' day in hiker talk.
Our attempts to hitch a ride were undoubtedly performed well, but netted us no driver willing to stop. After half an hour we decided to ditch our plan, and returned to the trail head where we inquired with a local hiker hostel driver about the cost of a shower at their place. He drove us the 1/2 mile to the hostel, where we paid $10 for a hot shower. This is somewhat steep compared to most trail places however after a week, and judging by my own emitted body odor, it was worth it. After an extremely nice half-hour shower with a brand new bar of soap, we asked about the likelihood of taking their van into town at its organized time. They wanted another $10 for that ride.... At this point we'd be $20 in the hole, which was the equivalent of the cost to spend the night (a cost which included a bed, free shuttle service to town, and as many showers as you can take). Although I reeeeealllllyyyyy did not want to do this, Kevin and I decided it might be the best way to get food, as well as rest my leg for a day. So, we're staying at the Top of Georgia hiker hostel tonight. They drove us into town with 8 others we've been hiking with, where we ate at a buffet and did some food shopping at a grocery store. As I write this, we're sitting out front in the shade with our groceries, enjoying a cold birthday-beer in the shade (it's Kevin's 25th). Not many places still have Sam Adams Cold Snap, so it was a pleasant surprise. As we were sitting there, looking homeless by the recycled boxes on the side of the grocery store, a little old lady just came by and she said from her car 'I'm looking for boxes to take home, not young men!' - I couldn't make this up.
The van picked us back up at 1700hrs, at which point we went back to the hostel and organized food. Kevin and I split a few purchases to share items. The diet on the trail (ideal calorie intake being 4-5,000 a day) is very sugary. New food adds a good 5-7 pounds of pack weight, which is hard but easily justifiable as it makes our distances between resupplies longer. Hikers staying with us tonight include Steve from MA, Matthew, Jeff (now trail named Yellow Beard- www.itsonlywalking.com), Bob, and a dozen others. I don't know everyone's names. I hope to be on the trail early in the morning, and make up for lost miles today. I realize that there's a pace I shouldn't exceed, but it feels wrong to be sitting idly by and not hiking. Strange that after not even a week, I'm actually missing being on the trail.