May 24 2015
I got up early, sunrise, and walked down to the falls. There were a lot of stairs completely hidden by purple rhododendron. I finally came to a platform beneath the falls and looked up, finding myself mostly disappointed. I felt badly that I had higher expectations. I wanted to appreciate everything, especially waterfalls that I would usually find breathtaking. I did however find the climb back to trail breathtaking. I hiked it hard, 3 mi./hr uphill is a feat for me. Just as I reached the sign for the AT I find my path crossing with Gooroo and Zero. Zero remembered me by the ham sandwich my mother gave him at Fontana Dam. He made me laugh too. I was happy to find good company after so much work.
We finished the mountain together to find an amazing hiker feed at the top. Pokey, Mofo and Dusty Pilgrim were doing trail magic with their friends. They were doing a reunion hike and this was a sort of celebration. They were cooking a three course meal in a Dutch oven. They had a hand washing station, sodas, snacks, watermelon, powerade and many other homemade snacks for hikers. Pokey felt badly that we would miss the feed so she offered to meet us at noon five miles down trail at a specific trailhead. Gooroo and I decided to take it easy for a day, but neither one of us really knew how to slow down. We couldn’t change the pace unless we were speeding up. So after breakfast (Pokey fed me breakfast, lunch and dinner on this day and I am forever grateful) Gooroo and I walked to a shelter a mile away and drew pictures in the log book. I had colored pencils Sam bought me, snapped in half and sharpened with a knife,these made for some interesting drawings. We meandered in and out of every overlook, pausing sometimes for a moment and sometimes we sat. We got to the trail head around 11 and did yoga until Pokey arrived. Her car rolled up just as we finished the last pose.
There were so many people sitting around in a circle of folding chairs, happily chatting and eating. Bloop Bleep was there and found out I was five miles ahead, so he hit the trail to catch up. Gooroo and I hit the trail from the trail head and he was moving fast. I thought I might lose him, but he stuck around. We hiked down to the last shelter before the James River crossing. Just Mike had signed the book that he was headed into Glasgow and I had a resupply to pick up there. Gooroo and I were sitting down to dinner, deciding our plans for the night when down the hill came three hikers. They were almost flying down the hill. Bloop Bleep had caught up and trailing behind him were Flask and No-one. We all sat at the table and ate. Introductions went around and I went off to Glasgow to get my package at the closed post office and catch Just Mike at the hiker shelter in town.
The James River was beautiful in the late evening. We wandered through the reflecting afternoon light and hitched a ride with some river rats at the boat ramp. They were young, excited and sun baked after a day of drifting down the river. What we didn’t realize until we were on two wheels, racing around winding curves, was that there were a lot of empty beer cans rolling around in the truck bed. The three up front were blasting music and singing loudly while hanging out the windows.
I remember thinking “This is how I die.” My whole body went tense with worry. I wanted off the ride!
Then a thought hit me “At least it was a good life.” I relaxed and started enjoying the wild ride to town. They left us at a gas station, the kind without a cover and pumps that have old rotary counters.
We walked towards what might be town- a country store and a pizza place. Along the roadside was a large dinosaur-one of those from 1940’s scenic attractions. I couldn’t see Glasgow as ever being an attractive place so it was for the most part confusing and surreal.
The hiker shelter had bunks and power lights. There was a hose powered shower and a port-o-potty. I met Twinkle toes here. She gave me a necklace that I still wear to this day. I plan to wear it until it falls off. She was a little nuts, but in general I liked her incessant chatter. Mike was genuinely surprised to see us. We had a nice night of talking around the campfire.