We left Hiawassee with a great breakfast at the Southside Cafe - delicious way to start the day, and then caught the free shuttle back to the trail, right where they had picked us up. We actually had 11 hikers in the van, getting back on the trail at Dick's Creek Gap. After being on the trail about 30 minutes, we were passed by a speedy hiker, and when he passed us, I noticed he had the Triple Crown collection of patches on his backpack, so I had to inquire. He said he had hiked the AT, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail, in 09, 10, and 11, and this year he was in the process of hiking the Eastern Continental Trail. Matter of fact, he had just hit 1900 miles that day. The ECT begins in Key West, Florida, connect to the AT, and then heads on up to Newfoundland. He began back in November! His trail name was Lakeland, and if you want to look him up, you can search for him on trailjournals.com. We stopped at Plumorchard Gap for lunch, and the day ended up being misty, foggy, nice and cool. We had left the sun, heat, and bugs behind for now! Yay! I will put pics of that shelter on a different post. It was really cool, and had been air-lifted in.
After returning to the trail, we met up with Bill and Taylor, who we had camped with several nights back, and met James, an 18 year old from Scotland. He had graduated from high school, and informed his family (much to their horror), that he was heading to America to hike the AT. I asked him where he had heard of it, and of course, he had read "A Walk in the Woods," a book that actually brought the AT to many folks' attention. He was fun to listen to, with the Scottish accent, but was funny, because he hated his own accent, and instead wished that he had a Texas accent! This made me laugh. He doesn' t like his own accent, because sometimes Americans cannot understand him. Keith tried to convince him that the chicks like accents, and that he could use this to his advantage.
Of all the ironic things, we walked so much in our Crocs in Hiawassee, that I got a small blister on my heel! What the heck! Hiking boots, no problem, but town shoes gave me a blister. Anyway, I was doing well, untl after lunch, and then the heel slowed me down a bit, which was frustrating, because we were anxious to hit our first state line. This is, of course, a big deal on the trail. We will pass through 14 states, with North Carolina being our second one.
We finally came to a place where we saw Bill and Taylor snacking under a huge rock overhang, and as we approached, Bill announced that in 15 yards, we were going to have a life-altering experience. We knew we had finally made it. We all posed for pictures, and then moved on to find a level campsite for the night. We ended up at another landmark on the trail, the old gnarled oak, where we ended up camping with James, and took a picture there with him as well.
(Camped just above Bly Gap, at gnarled oak, mile 78.6)
- Steady and F100