April 2 2015
Our amazing trail angels.
The next day was cold and foggy. Rain sprinkled on and off. My mom was moving slower today with a slight limp. She was visibly hurting. We walked along the ridge approaching Standing Indian when we came to a rocky descent. I took her pack and walked it down the scramble and she looked to me and said she wanted to stop. I didn’t know how to respond. We called Kevin, trying to keep the phone dry in the rain and asked him to come back down to Georgia. At the gap before Standing Indian shelter there is a trail down to the campground, but six extra miles downhill sounded mighty painful to Mother Earth’s knees. We stood next to a desolate dirt road and wondered how we could get down when out of nowhere, almost immediately upon our arrival, a red truck emerged and parked. An older couple popped their heads out of the truck and asked if anyone needed a ride to Hiawassee. We were overjoyed at the luck and quickly crawled into the back of the pick-up. We threw our wet packs in and scraped off as much mud from our shoes as possible and closed the gate.
From the back of the pick-up we watched as the forest passed by, the experience of moving faster than two miles an hour was confusing. We watched as we turned onto the highway and the mountains revealed their enormity from the bottom. I couldn’t believe we were way up there. As we passed along into town they seemed more and more distant. We drove through a familiar town that my grandparents had lived in for many years. We could see the house my grandfather built from the back of the pick-up. Mother Earth told me stories about when she was here when she was young, looking for a job, worrying about my dad walking along the Appalachian Trail.
We got dropped off in town at a local Motel, the place was cheap, dirty and hiker friendly. We thanked our trail angels for the ride and sought out some greasy diner food. Eventually Kevin arrived and we made some heart-rending trades in gear. I took my mom’s red flannel shirt as a reminder of my hiking partner and swapped out my shoes for some low-cut Merrill boots. I hung up my tent and wet gear all over the room and washed the mud off of my gear, preparing to head back to trail in the morning.
Again, I am overjoyed and thankful for the trail magic and angels that helped us through this day. I hope Mother Earth finds the inspiration to hike the rest of trail in the next few years.