We packed up earlier than usual, and got an early start. There were other hikers at this shelter that I had not met yet, but Keith had met at the Trail Magic yesterday, because he had reached it before I did. One of the girls, Sap, plays violin, and had a violin made for her that she could take backpacking. It is very small and compact, and fits in a tube. I have yet to see it, but hope to get a picture on up the trail. She played it last night before we went to bed, and some people sang, and it was really beautiful background music to fall asleep to. They were camped closer to the shelter, and we had opted to be farther in the trees.
We did not notice until we hiked out that morning, but during the night, Glogg, Flash, Nokey, and Snagglefoot had nighthiked into camp. They had stopped a lot shorter than us one day, but had gone much farther the next, to make up the difference, and not have so far to hike into Erwin. They had gotten the good news that Barefoot and Gypsy Soul were on the trail again, and that Barefoot was not healthy. It was also amazing that just days before Glogg had been thinking about getting off of the trail, but now he was hiking 20 miles in a single day. It sounded like the two girls would probably catch up to them in the next week, and I know that would make them really happy.
Keith and I and Stingray headed for Erwin, with Swamprat following not far behind. Keith had mentioned taking a zero in town, and so I was excited! We hiked with a purpose, and even though it was a roller coast of hill after hill, after hill, we made really good time. We reached a vista point with a beautiful view of the town below. The Nolichucky River ran right through it, and there was a railroad bridge right under us also. The guys stayed behind to get a picture of a train that was approaching the bridge. I opted to go on down the trail, but was stopped in my tracks by wild azaleas and wild magnolias. It's funny the different things that will stop guys vs. the things that will stop girls to take photographs.
We reached Uncle Johny's Nolichucky Hostel and picked up our latest resupply box (Thanks Sean, and Bart!), and decided to try hitching to town to our hotel. It was Sunday, and we noticed a Sheriff parked close by. I talked to him and asked him if it was legal to hitch in Tennessee, and he assured me that it was. In some states, it is not. There was almost NO traffic on this road, but there were two Baptist churches, and it was 11:15, so the four of us sat in the shade near the parking lot, waiting for church to let out and hoping for the best. While we were waiting, I remembered that the hotel where we had reservations would sometimes come pick up hikers, and I called them, and 15 minutes later, they were taking us to the hotel. Sweet!
We hit the showers, draining the hot water tanks of the hotel, I do believe, and then walked down to McDonald's for a little of America's finest fast food. Keith and I then walked on into town, and checked out the cinema. They had a 3:00 matinee, and we were really missing going to the movies. We bought a ticket, and it was like taking a step back in time. The theatre had been operating since 1940, and was one of the few theatres in the country that still used actual film! The theatre was small, and we seemed too close to the screen, and the rows were about 6 feet apart! The way things ought to be! When we left there, Swamprat had texted Keith to meet for Mexcian food, and so we walked down and met him.
After leaving there, we were heading back to the hotel, and a car passed us honking. We didn't pay it too much mind, since we didn't know anyone with vehicles, but pretty soon it pulled up beside us, and we recognized the hikers in the back seat. The driver turned out to be an AT legend, Miss Janet! We had read about her on the internet. She used to own a hostel in this area, but now was mainly shuttling hikers when they needed it. She gave us her card, and told us to call her anytime. She never charged anything, but instead took donations.