Well, here I am typing (swiping, really) on my phone in the dark. I am not actually on the trail, though- I am sitting in a house on a property in Asheville, NC, staying with a Christian hippie community that runs a farm and sells tea and practices hospitality on such hapless sojourners as myself. And you all thought my WOOFing days were over. (Also they pray every morning and evening with song and dance. SONG AND DANCE.) Having walked many days, and then huzzahing through Smoky Mt National Park in five days with rain and storm, erstwhile wildlife, flooding trails and mice eating my buff, I appear to have caught a cold. Hum.
This was in addition to many tiny mendable equipments breaking. Also consistently being soaked. Also I appear to have misplaced my hat. I think I got an infection in my leg that is going away, which is great because we (myself and an awesome section hiker, minus another hiker we shall call “Apple Tree”) hiked to Hot Springs from Davenport Gap (34-ish miles) this past day and a half, and that is long miles for an infection. And in other pathetic news, people keep giving me food. Oh man. Oh man. I have a great story for you (it involves food).
So here I am tromping down towards Fontana Dam one evening. Days are like the tides- some days the moon is really close and you can swim in water glorious water and it’s really easy to walk down that gangplank without slipping or getting run over by really heavy carts or anything (you know), and other days if you try to swim, well there are barnacles and wet sand so no swimming, sorry, and seaweed everywhere so at least you can grab that, but everything is really steep and hard, alas, and you feel like crying… you know?
Ok. So it’s not a perfect metaphor. But anyways, imagine me. Hard day. Steep slope. No swimming. May have face planted on a couple of tree roots. May not. (I forget what day that was.) So I reflect deeply on my life, and reach this grand conclusion, which is that in order to maximize the number of free things I get (this is necessary, all right, in my line of work) I must cultivate an atmosphere that is both incredibly pitiful and ridiculously compelling. The two go hand in hand. Compelling alone? Gratuitous attention. No free foods. Pathetic alone? Pitying looks from bystanders. Still no free foods. What I needed, dear reader, was a bombastic combination of both these things, in order to evoke pity and compel any hapless passerby into action. My look should make anyone walking by immediately think something along the lines of, “Goodness gracious me look at that poor hiker come family let us give her all of our extra food, oh heavens.” You get the idea.
Anyways, I reflected on this for the entire afternoon, because let us be real the trees were very nice, wow yes very nice pretty flowers, but hiker hunger is a coping mechanism, you know, on those awful low tide days. Then I get to Fontana Dam, and their shuttle phone for a shuttle into town is broken, so I start walking until a biker with a sidecar pulls over about 10 minutes later and I get in and offski we go to the place I can pick up my mail. I’ve been dreaming of restaurant foods for almost the entire day at this point, but let us be real- who has the budget for that?
So I walk in. Here is an old couple in the corner. Hello- oh oops, you do not work here. Sorry. Yes, I am a hiker. No, I have no friends. Here is my mailed box, obtained from the front desk. The people at the desk say, would you like that shuttle back to the shelter now?
Hum, says I, befuddled. I can open my box first? Yes, they say. I sit down and start shuffling through my box.
There is furious whispering in the corner. They are maybe going a bit deaf, so I hear things like, Is she all right? I don’t know… Ask her! She looks fine, I think… Go on, ask her!
“Excuse me- are you all right?” So maybe I was staring into the distance contemplating dinner at this point. Yes, I am just thinking about what I should cook. Thank you, nice lady. She goes back, and sits down. More whispering. She walks back over. “Excuse me- we have decided to buy you dinner, if you want. We would love to. Can we buy you dinner?”
YES YES YOU CAN BUY ME DINNER ok calm down ALL MY DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE. (They had, dear reader. They truly had.)
And so that, my people, is the story of how I ended up in the Fontana Hilton (hiking shelter) with a delectable selection of fries for my fellow hikers, a pitiable yet compelling face, and a mailed box full of goodies from my ma.
From there to here is a longer story, but I am offski to sleep times. It is good to hear from you, as always. Know that if you sent messages to Hot Springs, I picked them up today… But I will probably stay in this place eating foods and playing with small children, and fixing my broken equipments, and doing farm work, and nerding out about science with a Slovenian physicist who is also here in this wee community, doing farm work, who got awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a few years back with a number of folks for going into Iraq, investigating their nuclear capabilities, and trying to make sure there was no war. He has informed me that he must teach me mountaineering, so I do not need to stop in the winters. Thanks, dude. I’ll be leaving from Hot Springs this Saturday morning, is the plan, with a bit over 700 miles already having rolled away underneath me. Take care, and keep being great!
Total Blisters On My Feet So Far, Including Copious Amounts Of Hiking In The Rain: 0
Is that how you write these things? Also, I am totally serious about that physicist. Peace out, scouts.
So, before I started packing the box of goodies for you, a thought was planted in my mind by maybe some celestial being. I think I should surprise Anna and pull a Grandpa Jay and in his words, ” Here’s $20. Enough to buy yourself a hamburger dinner.” So, I packed the box full. Sealed it very well and addressed it. Alas, I forgot to enclose the dinner money. Looks like the celestial being found a substitute. Thank you nice couple for doing it for me.
Hello Sail Away–you’re so great!!!!! Can’t wait to meet you.Be careful. We can work on plans this winter.
If you learn the mountaineering and do not stop in the winter, I hope at least when you are in Maine sometime you will want to take a rest break at my house to snuggle with warm fuzzy critters and eat many fresh yummy eggs.
So glad nice people are finding you and feeding you.
I will do all these things. There will definitely be a winter stop! I am not positive where everything will be, but at least a part will for sure involve Maine and Thomaston and snuggling with fuzzy critters, even say say.
Just so you know, the Fontana dam is right about in the middle of the eclipse today, so if it gets dark around 2:30, you’ll know why. Bye Anne, we hope to see you, one day … Take care. – Uncle Bob