Into Hiawassee and beyond

The man introduced himself. I’m going to call him Mark. *Before I continue I just want you to know that I am horrible when it comes to names. I haven’t remember hardly anybody’s name while hiking. Mark started telling to me about the area and growing up in Canada. The area was beautiful. Lots of farm fields and open hilly land. As I started getting closer to Hiawassee, I noticed a few big lakes. Later I learned they were all connected in that area near the town. The water levels looked pretty low at least 10’/3m low. Some of the boats that were out in the water were almost touching the bottom of the lake. I started to wonder if they were in a drought. About a half an hour later we get into town. He drops me off at a hotel at the beginning of town. Mark told me he has a hotel in Franklin, NC and shuttle’s hikers into town over there as well on certain days of the week.

When I got to town food was the main thing on my mind. Once I got some food and resupplied I knew I could relax later on. So, I told Mark that I was going to walk up the street to get something to eat. I tried to hitch a ride to the closest grocery store but no luck. I walked a few blocks before I found something. I walked over to the Hardee’s and grabbed something to eat. I sent out a few messages to family and friends letting them know I’m ok. After I ate I went over to the grocery store which wasn’t far from Hardee’s. Not really sure what I was going to be getting for food on the trail but decided I’ll figure something out. While I was in there I ran into some other hikers from the night before. We chatted a bit and they were just there to resupply then they were heading back on the trail. So I started getting random stuff not really sure what I needed to get. I just knew that the only cooking that needed to be done was with water. So, I looked for easy to make food with water. I grabbed a few snacks, instant mashed potatoes and a few things I could eat at the hotel later on in the day. In the morning I never really made breakfast. I just would eat snacks cause usually my fingers were too cold to work right. I left the store with a somewhat full belly and about 3-4 bags of goodies. Feeling somewhat better I made my way back to the hotel that Mark dropped me off at. I got a room and as soon as I got in I dropped my backpack on the bed and laid down on the other bed. My shoulders and lower back were killing me. My body was still not use to all this extra weight I was carrying. I did some stretching and massaged my shoulders and legs. I took a nice warm shower and when I got out I felt tremendous. I turned the heater on and pulled up two chairs that were in the room. I started to unpack my backpack since it was wet and putting all the dry things in one pile and the wet stuff was put on the chair or hung on the chair to dry near the heater. I started to eat some of the food I bought and turned on the tv to check the weather for the next few days. The up coming days looked nice for the most part but there were a few days with rain and nights were still pretty cold. Most of the nights were close to freezing. I turned the tv off and meditated for about fifteen minutes.

When I got out of my meditative state I felt a lot better. I started to jot down the events on the last few days on a piece of paper. I thought to myself, if this happened the first week of hiking the AT then I can’t wait to see what adventures await me next. I relaxed the rest of the day massaging my legs and feet while the rest of my stuff was drying near the heater. I watched a little bit of tv but mostly read a pdf I had on my phone. Day turned to night and I planned the next few days out. Seems like there is a hostal at the other side of Hiawassee. As I plotted the next day I realized that it was going to be a 17m/27km hike to the other side of town. Later I debated if I was going to stay there or just try to get to the shelter after the gap. I guess I’ll wait and see how I feel when I get to that situation.

The next day I woke up around five that morning and started getting my stuff situated before I headed out for the day. I snacked on a few things. I put my jacket on and backpack and was out the door. No one was in the office so I though I could just drop the key in a slot or something. No slot to be found. I looked all over for a place to put the key. Nothing. I just placed the key at the office door and hoped no one would do any damage in my room. I left and across the street was a gas station. There was a truck there and I’m guessing the owner went to go pay for gas. As I crossed the street I saw him come out and get in his truck. I hurried across the street to see if he could give me a ride. I got all the way to his truck and he was looking at a receipt paying no attention to me. I waved my hands near his truck trying not to startle him then he looked up and saw me. I asked if I could get a ride to the trail and he said sure. So I hopped in and away we went. We got to the gap and he wished me luck as I thanked him for the ride and started my 17m/27km hike.

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