A wrestless kid kept the fire stoked all night long. I'd come in from Standing Bear Hostel over a windy Max Patch. The boy and his father were more then generous when I arrived at the shelter offering to fetch water and offering me snacks. Though the glow of the fire kept me awake it was the red headlamp that caught my attention. The last time it was a hiker called Half Moon who momentarily sat down late at 'Frozen Indian' (not the shelter's real name just what those of us who where there on a sub-freezing night remember it as) ready to eat peanut butter when a mouse swan dived into it. Half Moon's responded, 'oh great' then he left. We didn't know who said or why until days later. I pondered who did this lamp belong to?
The kid greeted me good morning, I responded in a muffled cuss. I'm only a morning person after my coffee. Out here make that after my hiking pants are on, generally 15 minutes after I cuss out the sun for not warming the shelter up. Tennessee's lessons on the AT is patience, more on this in a few paragraphs. On the shelter's table a bag of goodies. A note read, "Trail Magic, Semper Fy, Adam and son." Thanks Adam, I enjoyed the ham sandwich for breakfast, I shot the coffee packet later for a burst of energy. Someone else scooped the TP.
I stuffed every belonging of mine into the new ruck, making careful inventory as not to misplace another item. So far I've lost a pair of half gloves, one pair of socks, and anti-chafing rub. I didn't want to loss anything else.
I thanked the boy and his Dad for their hospitality and their offer to take out the trash for the few thru-hikers whip stayed. Then I was off at the speed of bacon. I heard there'd be trail magic of a breakfast 11 miles down the trail. At 2 miles an hour that's 5 hours give or take a break, a view, or water stop.
Yes, there was bacon in the form of sausage. The meal did not disapoint. A few former thru-hikers encouraged me to head on Into Hot Springs. I did. I made a courtesy call at a shelter enroute. Raven had stopped and left a poem, '5 Million Steps' - I took a photo and encourage you to read it on flicker. It describes the hike thus far to a T.
My feet happily danced down the trail. Not long over a ridge I heard the tell tell signs of civilization - traffic. In particular I heard Harley's. Still miles away, I kept the pace lively.
I crossed into town. Hit the Dollar General. Not long after I heard my trail name called - Train (very few know my real name). Coming from across the street I see a retired USAF hiker, Roan. He was taking a zero. I had seen him for over a week ago. We talked a few moments. Down by the motel, I heard my name again. This time Bear Claw, Rodeo, Wiskey, and few others. I thought I'd never catch 'em but, then again after reading what Wiskey's written in a few shelter logs, I'm not surprised they got stuck in this town. Small all of 5 minutes to cross, hiker and biker friendly, a true trail town on a busy train line.
I'm camping by the river tonight enjoying both the river and freight trains rumble by. The motel's full, a shower would be nice. I'm learning I don't need to have 2 showers a day. I will not keep the 2 showers a month going on upon completion of the AT. I did shower the day before at Standing Bear.
Tomorrow, I'm doing up loads and postings. I want to say if you are following the Spot beacon the forest canopy is filling in and the beacon will not be giving my start/finish locations each day, rather where ever I can get a good sky fix in the morning and afternoon.
Each day I do take time to write my personal journal. I am backing this up by photo and making it available on Flickr. Of note I am finding my comfort level changing into an I can attitude that I haven't experienced before. I am also learning to trust myself more. I haven't lost the expected weight but am feeling stronger each day.
I do miss the fellowship of a good church around me even if it's just for a weekend service. When the writer of Hebrews says 'don't give up the habit of meeting together.' I understand more fully what he ment as we derive strength from each other. As hikers we draw upon this daily as we all cross the same ridges, rocks, steep mountains in the same weather. As believers we draw on something similar through the Spiritual relms. Okay, preaching segway over.
My growth is becoming more open to me. In Georgia I was getting in trail shape. In North Carolina I was getting gear equipped. In Tennessee I am going through lessons of patience both with myself and others. For example as I came off Max Patch into tent city, I wandered off the AT. I asked a couple of boys chillin by their tents where the AT was. They didn't quite get my question. As I got frustrated, I remembered, their kids out here to learn about camping why should I ruin their experience. I thanking 'em and retraced my steps. The couple I'd chatted with redirected my steps. It's little things that make the biggest differences. The boy last night, good kid, full of energy, and out making memories with his Dad. It's times line these where the lessons I'm learning kick in the most, little things, when the big things are taken care of the little things fall into place like making memories.
Hike on. Hike wise.