The next morning, Keith visited with them, and I got to visit with them later on on the trail at a beautiful overlook where we took turns taking pictures of each other. They are from Switzerland, and explained that they were watching the beautiful full, red moon come up, and were inspired to sing that particular song, because it was about a mountaineer who was watching the sunset over the glaciers, and the glaciers were glowing with the evening light. The song was a Swiss song about the awesome beauty of nature. We told them we would be stalking them down the trail from now on, just so we could camp hear them, in case they serenaded campers again. Their trail name are Boots and Melody. His name is not from his hiking boots, but from the Nancy Sinatra song, "These Boots are Made for Walking," which he loves. They enjoy counry music, and are getting off the trail in a few days to see two concerts - Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams, Jr. I'm sure we will see them further north though.
We got great news that Ladyfish is on the trail again after going into Gatlinburg for a cortisone shot in her foot. We pray that this will help her heal up quickly and catch up to us, as we are hoping to hike with her again.
As we left the shelter that morning, two Rangers showed up looking for two hikers that they had had numerous complaints about - Machete Mitch and Craftsman. Luckily, we had never camped with them, but had heard about their bizarre entries in the shelter journals. There are notebooks in each shelter that hikers make daily entries in. It's a great way to share whatever you want to share with others, or keep tabs on people you enjoy hiking with and hope to hook up with again. Usually the message are very upbeat, encouraging, but these two had left messages such as, "Today is a good day to die," and the trail grapevine was abuzz with the fact that one carried a machete (guess which one) and the other carried a .22. We hoped never to meet them.
We hiked on, and as we approached the northern boundary of the Nat'l Park, came much lower in elevation, and began hiking along the most beautiful stream. We stopped at one point and soaked our feet in the stream. Spring was coming on strong at this lower elevation, with lots of green, and plenty of blooms everywhere. As the stream gained volume, it spilled perfectly down boulder after boulder. Just gorgeous!
We came out of the woods, and cross a bridge across the Pigeon River, waving at rafts as they passed under us. We turned a corner, and there was I-40! We actually walked under an I-40 underpass, and back into the woods. I had a real tug at my heart strings at I-40, because turning east would lead us straight to Elise and Daniel, and going west would take us straight to Sean. We are missing them so much!
We hiked on north though, knowing that within a mile we would arrive at the Standing Bear Hostel, and we had heard on the grapevine that they had Digiorno's Pizzas in the freezer, and a pizza oven you could use! Yum! When we arrived, two friends of ours, Spirit and Swinging Jane (from an unfortunate incident when she decided to swing on a vine and split her knee open), warned us that Machete Mitch and Craftsman were in fact sitting in front of us drinking beer. Uh-oh. Didn't really want to eat with them, but we really didn't want to bypass PIZZA ON THE TRAIL either. Decisions, decisions! We gave them a wide berth, avoided eye contact, and scarfed down pizza, 5 hot dogs, 1 Yoo Hoo, 2 Cokes, 1 large bag of chips, and a Snickers, as fast as humanly possible, and hit the trail again. The man running the place kept announcing that there would be a beer run at 6:00, so we suspected that the two misfits would most likely be sticking a while. When we left the hostel, we began hiking with Weatherman, who really enjoy (he hikes with a transistor radio around his neck, and so, usually has the most recently weather reports), and he told us that he found out that the Hostel was warned by the Park that the two troublemakers were headed their way, and so when they arrived, they took their weapons. Good to find out. We still wanted to put as many miles as possible between us and them. Didn't really want to be in our tents, and hear Machete Mitch and Craftsman come into camp!
We hiked much farther than we normally would have, because we knew that Stingray and Boots and Melody were just ahead of us, and we felt like the more camped together, the safer. Or is it the more camped together, the more victims? lol. Anyway, we ended up at the top of this mountain called Snowbird Mountain, which had a gorgeous 360 degree view, but the ugliest FAA facility on top. As long as you looked away from the mountain, it was a great view! No serenading that night, but as the surroundings towns' lights came on, it was quite a light show, and the stars and moon were gorgeous again. We have had many, many clear nights on this trip so far.
As if we needed anymore excitement, at 2 a.m., two vehicles drove up to the top of the mountain, parked with their lights on, and in drunken slurs, talked loudly about which town was which in the distance. It took quite a while for them to notice the tents. "Are those tents over there? Do you think there's people in them tents? How in the heck did they get up here?" Pretty humorous conversations went on for a while. They only stayed about 20 minutes, but as they left, they rolled closely to the tents and laid on the horns. Lovely. Sweet dreams, folks.
Location:Walnut Mt. Shelter, mile 260.8