Days four-six

Greetings from Hiawasee, Georgia! I’m spending the night at the “Budget inn” here, a real gem at $40 dollars a night. I actually didn’t intend on staying here tonight, in order to save money. I had hoped to hike 10 miles today and stop just short of the trailhead, wake up the tomorrow, get into town to resupply, and get back onto the trail by the evening. But everything today pushed me into town instead. It rained all night last night, which was fine by me, all of my gear stayed very dry in my awesome tent (thanks Andrew!), but I decided to sleep in a bit to wait out the last of the morning rain and let my stuff dry out a bit. I ended up getting out of camp around nine, about an hour later than I normally would. Because of that I ended up booking it to the shelter about 10 miles away to catch up to some of my fellow hikers to see what their plans were for the evening and to see if I could hitch a ride on their shuttle that night or the next day. By the time I got to the shelter I had so much momentum that I just didn’t want to stop, so I pushed on the last 3 miles to Dick’s Creek Gap, where I could pick up the shuttle to the hotel.

But, honestly, the momentum isn’t not the only reason I’m here tonight. One of my bigger hesitations out here is hitchhiking. It seems to be an essential part of doing the trail inexpensively, as well as getting in/out of towns quickly. But having never hitchhiked, I’m a little gun shy. The motel has a free shuttle into town and when compared to the cost of hiring another shuttle, tonight is not such a big expense.

Regardless, I’m glad to be here now. I was craving a subway sandwhich something fierce the past two days and lo and behold, there’s a subway right next to the motel. Better yet when I was walking to my room today, with little introduction, I was offered a beer by a fellow hiker I’d never met. A great surprise treat if there ever was one.

The past few days have been pretty good. I’ve had my ups and downs. My first pangs of homesickness, general worn down-ness, and lonliness, particularly at night, but also some of the best moments yet. By and large the past days have been foot pain free which is a relief. But I think I pushed too hard today and my knee has started to bother me, which is worrysome.

The days have started to run together a bit so it’s hard to give an exact recap of the hikes, and those are a bit tiresome anyways, so I’ll try to just outline the milages and highlights.

Day 4: ~11 miles
Day 5: 13.4 miles
Day 6: 13 miles

I said goodbye to frenchie at the start of day 4, he had to get back to work in a little under a week and was worried about hitching to a train/bus station out of hiawasee and decided to get off the trail at Neel’s instead. It was a bit sad, he was great company and a good guy, but such is the nature of the trail (at least right now). Friendships are inherently transient out here. You might spend the next week hiking with that new friend, or you might never see them again with no chance to acknowledge that fact.

Speaking of which, I’ve been hiking with the same “cohort” of people for the past 3 days and have gotten to know them well. But with the stop at hiawasee, and since everyone has different plans of how long to stop for, the cohort is scattering. It’s sad because I’ve come to enjoy their company, but also exciting because it means meeting new people. Besides, I’ll probably see them down the trail at some point.

I haven’t been packing enough “trail food” these past sections. My daily eating has consisted of a cooked oatmeal breakfast, snacks I can eat on the go all day long, and a big cooked dinner at night. Unfortunately I haven’t been packing enough snacks and haven’t had enough to eat during the days. Worse yet, those that I did bring didn’t keep me full very long. Thankfully I brought a jar of peanut butter along that is “extra” or wasn’t part of my daily meal calculations and that has been my saving grace. I’ve found that a healthy dollop of peanut butter can make any snack much more filling. This discovery, in turn led to one of my favorite trail meals yet, or possibly ever.

I present to you dirtbag noodles in thai peanut sauce:

Take one package of Knorr pasta spirals in cheddar and broccoli sauce and cook until almost thickened. Add peanut butter and hot sauce to taste. Cook till thickened. Serve while piping hot. Serves 1.

Seriously, it’s delicious and tastes way more like a peanut sauce than you would think.

All this writing about food has reawakened my appetite and I’m pretty tired, so I think this will have to be all for tonight, even though I’d like to write a lot more. Will try to update from the trail tomorrow. I’ve had internet reception on my phone almost every night, so I’ll likely have it again tomorrow.

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