I guess I got a little caught up in things the past few days. Here's a recap bringin' y'all up to speed.
After the rain on the 12th (I think), it didn't rain the next day (13th?). Slept with my damp coat in my sleeping bag. The trick worked and it was dry when I woke up. Ran into Headin Out and Taggin Along once again. Always a cheery couple! We packed up wet tents and headed out. Stopped for lunch when it got sunny and pretty hot and dried things out really well. Repacked and headed back on the trail til we got to the top of Tray Mtn by the shelter. Met Doc, Seth, Seth's trail friend (not sure we got her name), and Peyton. Good elevation and view out over a valley. While cooking dinner on my homemade alcohol burning stove, I pulled a good one. After boiling water for mashed potatoes (delicious by the way, garlic flavor currently being my favorite trail food), I had a little too much alcohol left in the stove. I tried putting the flame out but in the process knocked it over, spilling (and igniting) a rock outcropping I was sitting on. When I moved something out of the way so it wouldn't catch on fire, the wore mesh pot stand flipped over and rolled off te cliff. Awesome, right? I looked briefly for it but gave up and had to laugh at the stupidity of cooking on a slanted rock cliff. Oh, forgot to mention that right as I sat down to start cooking, my alcohol fuel bottle tipped over and rolled toward the cliff, luckily being caught on a small ledge. Chris and another guy saw it happen, but none of us could do anything but laugh. Hey, at least the mashed potatoes tasted great!
On the 14th, we hiked about 9 miles or so and were picked up just outside Hiawassee, GA by our friend Jim who we had met the night before we started the hike. We drove into town to pick up our food resupply boxes at the Blueberry Patch Hiker Hostel, which even though they were technically closed due to family reasons, the owner was still taking in hiker boxes. Jim took us to the laundromat, which was unfortunately closed so we had to go just up the road to North Carolina to do laundry. My first time there. We finished that up then went to dinner at the Bear Diner where the Habitat for Humanity group that Jim works with, had an event going on. If you ate there, 10% of your bill went to Habitat. Always feels good to contribute, however this one was easy, plus we were hungry for a real meal! Had a burger, fries, and a Guiness then we got a tour of Hiawassee (cool little mountain town with a beautiful lake) and headed over to Jim and Maggie's house. We enjoyed some great pie and milk as we sat out on their screened in porch overlooking the lake at night. Heard and shared some great stories that night, and got to check out Jim's hobby of building remote control airplanes. He's got some serious talent and a passion for planes and building them! After a great night of sleep, woke up and had a great breakfast that Jim and Maggie made, then it was off to the post office to ship some of Brian and Chris' items home. Maggie then took us over to the Blueberry Patch Hostel and dropped us off to wait for Brian's new (hopefully drier) tent to arrive via UPS. It was hard saying bye to Jim and Maggie. They set the Trail Angel bar extremely high. If you two are reading this, THANK YOU, and I hope to see you two again soon! You are great people!
This brings us to the 15th. AKA the day of sitting around doing nothing, and waiting for a stinkin package. Just kidding Brian! The day was anything but "doing nothing". Gary, the owner of the B-Patch was kind enough to let us stay at the hostel and wait for the box to show up. We sat around for a while, fed the donkeys, fed the goats, then Gary took us up on our offer to give him a hand if he needed with things. We were put to work loading up chopped wood from a neighbor's (about a mile down the road) property and unloading and stacking it at the B-Patch. Three truckloads later and Gary decided to call lunch time. We headed into town for Daniel's buffet. Once again ran into Headin Out and Taggin Along. Had a huge meal and headed back to the B-Patch as rain started slowly coming down. Right then we realized we left our stuff out to dry. Fortunately it had only drizzled when we got back and our things weren't wet. Back to it for the fourth and final truckload of firewood. The package arrived shortly after 7:30pm, and Gary had said we could stay at the hostel that night if the package got there too late for us to hit the trail. We took him up on it. The place hadn't even opened for the season yet, but Gary was very thankful for our help and wanted to help us out by letting us stay. It was both interesting and exciting to meet and spend some time with someone who is so devoted to doing everything "fer the Lord". We became the first 2012 season's hikers to stay at the Blueberry Patch Hostel, which is also the 20th year of it being in service! After these past few days of unbelievable hospitality toward complete strangers (us), it's clear to see that there are still great people in this world who truly love helping others. A good friend recently told me "actions are powerful and necessary, but the intentions of your heart matter most". I hope I can take these people's examples and incorporate more of this into my life.
And now to today. Got a good nights sleep at the B-Patch, and it was back to the trail today. Gary drove us back up to the trail and as we approached the trailhead, some trail magic caught my eye. On a table lay 2 beers, chips, and salsa from a trail name "Hat". Too early for chips and salsa, but beer?! Jackpot! Old No.38 Stout by Mendocino Brewing Company. Delicious, and kinda ironic that that's the beer we got, because Mendocino is located both in Saratoga Springs, NY where I lived, and not too far away from where I lived in Cali. I practiced some self control too. As badly as I wanted to take the other beer along for later, I felt thankful for what we got, and left the other for some other hikers to enjoy. Later on down the trail, Some of that good karma must have found me quickly as I ran into Craftsman (who we had met on Blood Mtn and seen with Medicine Man a few days back), who asked if I wanted a beer. He said I would be helping him lower his pack weight. I took one for the team and helped him out :). We hiked along with Craftsman to a point where we ate lunch. While we were sitting there, Hat came along and we thanked him for our 10am beer treat. A good ole boy from Texas. 10 miles later we reached a sign and also milestone. We had reached out next state...North Carolina! Pulled into Bly Gap and decided to set up camp. Brian's throat is bothering him, we are all a little worn out (not sure how, considering we had a zero day: a day without putting on any miles), and my foot I had surgery on about 4 years ago was swollen and bothering me. Luckily I was able to use my stove without the pot stand to heat some water up for Brian's soup dinner and my mashed potatoes. I think it will be nice switching out to the Snow Peak Litemax Titanium stove in a few days when I meet up with my package en route. A little rain that blew in out of nowhere, but was quickly over. Hoping and praying for a dry night and a less painful day for all of us tomorrow.