Today has been filled with much of the same as yesterday, RAIN! The day started off wet as I tried breaking camp at Hawk Mountain in the rain. Much of my gear got wet as I tried to pack it and the rest became wet throughout the day in the driving rain while hiking. I did manage to cover a few more miles today even though today’s hike was much tougher than yesterday’s, starting off with some really tough climbs. And the rain makes for some dangerous footing, especially on the downhills trying to navigate down slippery rocks, roots and red Georgia clay! The uphill sometimes consisted of taking one step forward and sliding two steps back. But I would make up for it on the downhills taking one step forward and sliding two steps forward. Those were really dangerous! I am trying to be extra careful with my knee as I just had surgery on it in late November from an accident sustained from a client falling on me while in a stream guiding them fly fishing back in June. So far so good!
I met some wonderful people along the trail including a father/son from Mississippi. The son was hiking to Maine and the father was joining him for his first two days from Springer. I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to any of the many hikers camped at Hawk Mountain last night. I was surprised by the number of campers there both in the shelter as well as at least a dozen tents scattered around the shelter. The father/son was camped there last night as well and I asked them if they knew how many of the hikers camped there were thru-hikers? I loved his comment as the father said that most of them were thru-hikers, “FOR NOW”!!! I know that he is so right as on average only about 10% of those planning on hiking to Maine actually make it. My hopes are that I will be included in that 10%!!! I do realize that so many things can prevent someone from finishing the trail such as injury, illness, a death in the family, etc. I also realize that more than half of succeeding in making it to Katadin in Maine is mental. I realized this when I did a cross country bicycle trip from the coast of Oregon back to Bryson City seven years ago.
So after getting in thirteen miles today in less than favorable conditions toward the end of the day I came to a road crossing of a gravel road at Woody Gap. I got out my book and made the decision to contact Wolfpen Country Store in Suches, Ga. where they operate a hostel for AT hikers. Most everything I owned was wet and I felt this would be the best $20 I could spend to dry out my gear. The lady who owns the store drove up and introduced herself as Becky. I introduced myself and told her my wife’s name is Becky. She said that was funny because her husband’s name was Steve!!! We travelled only a few miles before arriving at their store. Their hostel is located above their store and consists of three rooms with homemade wooden bunkbeds with a piece of carpet on each bunkbed in each room. So you still use your camping pad and sleeping bag on the woodend bed. The carpet is so you won’the get a splinter in your air mattress. There are only three hikers here tonight therefore we each have our own room and have all of our gear scattered over the empty bunk beds drying it out. They even washed and dried our clothes for us in the store. And having a hot Pizza for supper really topped it off. So as I close for the night and prepare for another wet day of hiking tomorrow I am grateful for people like Becky and Steve who are so gracious in taking in wet thru-hikers! I am also thankful as I lay here in the dry, not hearing the rain against my tent as I did last night, but listening to the pouring rain as it lands on the metal roof over my head!!! I thank God for keeping me safe another day along my journey!!! Until tomorrow, good night from Mustard Seed.