Appalachian Trail Journals 04-07-03

Journals From A 2003 Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail (by Loony)

Entry #16 – April 7, 2003

Made it into the Plum Orchard Gap Shelter today. After our stay in town, I felt so sluggish. It was like I’d never hiked or worn a pack before.

Started out from Sassafrass Gap pretty early yesterday and got to Dick’s Creek Gap around noon. There waiting for us was – you guessed it – more food! A 2000 thru hiker named Tater was there with his wife and Granddaughter with hot dogs, pop, chips and fruit. We’ve never had it so good, but I’m sure the good times are about over with. We got a ride into town with a guy who’s following his friend who’s doing a documentary on the Trail. He’s got the car full of video equipment, etc. Anyway, Andy & I crowded in – so tight that I couldn’t move – my pack was on top of me & up to the ceiling! It was about 11 miles, and he dropped us off at the Holiday Inn. Hepcat was there already. We got our rooms & headed up to relax. It was a great hotel – nice rooms, and big, too. It was fun to relax & watch TV, etc. After a while we went w/Hepcat to Daniel’s for the All You Can Eat buffet. It was pretty good for only $6.50. (Oh – we went shopping before that, too. Bought some food & supplies, and I got a knee brace. Our ultimate disappointment, though? NO BEER sold in Georgia on Sundays! Not even in restaurants!)

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel with full bellies. Andy’s particular favorite at the AYCE? Okra – Ha ha! It was pretty good, but we’re still not eating grits! We lounged around the room, cleaned up some of our stuff, ate cheese balls, drank orange pop, and went down to the pool & hot tub for a bit, too. It rained that night, so we were glad to be inside. In the morning we ate @ the continental breakfast & then went to the Post Office to mail more stuff home and then to the library to check email. We checked out of the hotel @ 11:00 and then went down to the grocery store to pick up a beer for the night – a big Heineken Keg can each to lug up to Plum Orchard.

We started walking out of town then. Hepcat somehow caught a ride right away, but Andy and me had a heck of a time. We were almost out of town, with our thumbs out the whole time, when a rickety old Ford pickup pulled over. A big, burly Bubba-looking guy asked where we were going and “Got any money?” We said to Dick’s Creek Gap, and no, we didnât have any money. He told us to get in anyway, so we crawled into the rusty truck bed. As soon as we were in, he peeled off. The smell of gasoline, the holey bed, and the excessive speeds up the mountain had me fearing/praying for my life. As we neared the top, the truck kept getting faster & faster as the road got windier & windier. As I watched out the back, I noticed we were crossing over the double yellow lines as we made the turns. I started wondering if, in fact, he was going to stop at the top or keep going to God knows where. Well, he did stop, at which time he jumped out and chatted with us like the most normal person around, which seemed strange. Pat Garret was his name – like the cowboy? Who knows. Anyway, I forgot my hat in his truck, which sucks because I just bought it @ Neel’s Gap.