18-19 May – Damascus VA to Gloucester (825.8 miles)

What?  To Gloucester?!  I traveled for two days to Gloucester, MA from Damascus, VA.  Yes, I am officially ‘off the Trail’. . . I am back with Memory in Massachusetts and will be here with her from now on.  

I hitch-hiked from Damascus and got a ride all the way to Maryland with a fellow through-hiker (Big shout-out to Lauren:  congratulations on completing your own Through-Hike on 7 May! and thanks a ton for the great company and ride to Maryland!)  Then I took a Greyhound bus the next morning all the way to Boston, and Memory picked me up about 1:15a.m. today, the 20th, when I am writing this.  We’re sitting here now with great coffee from her super coffee machine.

But nobody cares about the logistics of all this:  –you want to know why!!
OK. . . here, –for my loyal readers–, in order, are the reasons that I left the Trail:

1.)  I was traumatized by all those morning coffees without half-and-half.

2.)  There is not that much fresh fried seafood available on the Appalachian Trail.   

3.)  I miss sharing my experiences, be they great or small, with Memory.  I’d rather be with her from now on than anywhere else.  I’m crazy in love with her.        

4.)  I’ve done enough to get out of this Trail experience what I wanted to; I’m satisfied that I’ve scratched that itch.

5.)  The Trail Gods told me it’s time to write that novel & screenplay that I’ve been wanting to get out for years.

6.) I didn’t realize that hiking involved so much walking.    

7.)  I’ve lost enough weight to be beach-ready!  

8.)  The devil made me do it.

OK.  Maybe that’s not the real ‘order’.  You decide!
Happy Trails 

30 March – Low Gap Shelter to Unicoi Gap / Helen Georgia [9.7]

Sure rained last night.                

Woke up early, felt great again and got going.  I’m stopping at Helen, GA for my first Zero day to catch up on- I mean start!- the blog and hopefully, I can keep current day to day from that point on.  Broke down my tent in the cold and wet again at a pretty-well occupied site and took off early.  Chugged away all day- another day I felt very strong.  Hmmm . . .  maybe I’ll be putting up those 15’s and 20’s after all . . . but of course I’m supposed to start out with 8’s for the first two weeks per universal advice. . .          

Got to Unicoi Gap uneventfully, and with some good hours-long stretches of solitude while loving the great outdoors … still very cold for this time of year I’m told but no significant rain today.           

Hitchhiked from Unicoi Gap to the wonderful touristy (Bavarian-themed) town of Helen, GA.           

AGAIN I got a ride on my first try.  But this time was very different.  Oh  . . . yes . . . it . . . was . . . The gentleman who pulled over had a Coast Guard hat on, declared he was a Navy veteran, and had a truck filled with military and survival gear.  And trash.  OK.  Did I mention that I’m in the hills, crags, and hollers of North Nowhere Georgia?  As I’m getting in the truck, he’s talking a mile a minute and never stopped talking even as he was pulling away after dropping me off in Helen, Georgia.           

What did we (he) talk about?:  First, of course, these are the actual Bigfoot Hills.  He’s got photos of footprints right on his camera right now.  Wanna’ see?  Don’t go out there now!  He’s pointing to the woods that I am deliberately hiking in by life design.  Also, a lot of stuff goes on around here . . . be careful.  This was where the first real Gold Rush happened, and some folks practice alchemy here to this day.  I’ve been traveling all over.  I used to do secret stuff in the Navy, wore a black suit all the time– let’s just say that.   Do you have a gun?  (This was one of the few times I spoke; I said ‘I’m a really good shot.’)  They’s a guy who lives in these hills they call Daddy who’s 12 feet tall and he isn’t even Bigfoot.  (By this point, I’m hearing banjo music but his truck radio wasn’t on.)  This whole place is Cherokee.  I’m Cherokee.  Wanna’ go see an Indian Burial site with me right now?  (Geez . . . really got to get to my place for the night instead)  See these rivers?  They ain’t the real rivers . . . I’ll tell you about that sometime.  My mother gave me this truck.  Here, I’m giving you this rock, it has properties . . .          

And on and on . . .                 

As I was getting out, he showed me the pictures of Bigfoot footprints on his camera.  They are real! How ’bout that?!  And all this time I thought he was just plumb crazy. 

I was grateful for the ride and also grateful I didn’t end up as part of some kind of moonlight sacrifice. 

Ladies, maybe don’t hitchhike alone around these parts . . .         

Trust me.