Thursday, December 10, 2009

Appalachian trail journal Dec. 5, 2009


For the second time in four days, I broke my promise to not pay for housing and forked over $35 to stay at the Hiawassee Inn. I resolutely planned to head right back out to the trail, but stopped when I saw the sign on the edge of town. "Hiker rates," it advertised. I went inside to investigate and the manager told me he'd even bring back to the trailhead in the morning. Sold!

This decision guarantees me a ride and hours upon hours of trashy television (PBS notwithstanding, most of what passes for television these days is trash). Since 2000 I have not lived with television channels at all. I own a TV, but only use it to watch DVDs.

A sign that I'm in the south: Local businesses use faith as a selling tool. One local dentist advertises, "Our business is our ministry." I have absolutely no problem with anyone believing in a higher power. Faith is a wonderful thing. But using it as a selling tool strikes me as tacky. Didn't Jesus throw the merchants out of the temple? Religion and commerce have always gone together, and to me it seems an oily mix. On a funnier note, I saw a home repair truck go by. The name of the business: "Gutter done!"

Woke up at first light to the tinkling slide of snow down my tent fly. The world is draped in a blanket of white, fat flakes lilting on a light breeze as I set off. The weekenders expressed admiration at the speed in which I broke camp. Practice, I said. Plus, I have town fever. It takes me less than 10 minutes to get everything together and hit the trail.

On the short hike to Dicks Creek Gap I came across a hunter, a quintessential Georgian with beady, close-set eyes and a thick, barely understandable drawl. Despite our language difficulties, we shared a love for this beautiful landscape. He offered me a ride to town if I was still around when he got back.

I didn't need his assistance. I kid you not, less than 10 seconds after I got to the road, the first vehicle to appear pulled over and gave me a ride. This has to be the fastest hitchhike in trail history. Inside the truck were three college students from nearby Young Harris College. The driver is an avid backpacker and has hiked most of the AT in Georgia. They dropped me off right at the post office in town.

I picked up my maildrop, loaded 6 days of food into my pack (no easy feat), went to Mickey D's for breakfast and hung out there with the senior citizens until almost noon, reading and journaling. After an AYCE at Daniels that I didn't do justice to (the hiker hunger hasn't kicked in yet), I was ready to head out of town. But I saw the hotel sign and descended quickly, fixating myself on pixelated stupidity. I also talked with Esther and Jonny for awhile and did some reading. I later went to the grocery store and bought some fresh fruit and potato chips. Yum!

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