Today was a "trail Friday"! We had a pretty leisurely 4 mile hike up to a ridge then down into Erwin, TN. Looked forward to get into town and eat something other than trail food, get a hot shower, and get to the clinic to get my sinuses/congestion taken care of (hopefully for the last time!).
Stopped right off the trail at Uncle Johnny's Hiker Hostel and Outfitter to pick up our food resupply, my replacement water filter that MSR said would be there, and some Big Agnes sleeping pads to test out that the folks there at Big Agnes (out of Steamboat Springs, CO) sent our way to test out. I've always wondered how the gear testers in Backpacker Magazine and Outside Magazine got the cool job of trying out new products. Maybe this is a start to something!
Chris' food resupply showed up. Mine was nowhere to be found. Sleeping pads showed up, but the guy working there didn't know anything about replacing my filter. And Chris' other package wasn't able to be found. Please keep in mind that the following is not a knock on Uncle Johnny's, as I have nothing against the place and no opinions based off anything there except the guy working while we were there. As Brian would say, that guy was a major "jerkasaurus". Told another hiker that he doesn't like to run credit multiple times, so to figure out right then and there (as she just got there and was checking in), if she needed anything else for the whole time so he could just do one transaction. After taking care of Brian's, Chris', and my package that were there, he was very short and rude about the other packages that didn't appear to be there but should have been, and about my replacement filter. He could have approached it other ways that wouldn't have rubbed us wrong, but instead said "I have to do the breakfast shuttle run, that's why I need you guys to hurry up". He asked if we were staying there and said the guest shuttle is free, but of we aren't staying, it's $2 per person. I told the guys I'd rather walk 4 miles to town than give this guy our business.
We started walking and within about 5 minutes, a guy walking down the street stopped to talk for a minute and wish us luck on our journey. Nice people down south! Then a few minutes later, at the same time, we both saw Frenchy getting a ride and passing by, saying hi, and another man pulled over and offered us a lift to town. Howard took us into town and dropped us off at the post office. Another helpful, friendly person. As we were getting into Howard's car, the jerkasaurus drove by in the shuttle van and just looked over. Haha. Sucker!
We made a b-line for the golden arches down the road. Chris and I had big mac meals, then Chris followed that up with a McChicken and a McDouble, and I followed it up with a McDouble and six piece McNugget! We were hungry boys! A few people could tell we were hikers (was it the backpacks or us eating like we hadn't seen food in a week?), and asked us about our adventure. It's fun talking to people about it. We sometimes get looks like we are from another planet! If any of you are looking to send a care package, Chris and I realized today that McDonalds and Subway cards are lightweight, and WILL NOT go to waste! :)
Checked into a Super 8 motel and I took an amazing hot shower. Then it was off to the clinic. Three locals told me to take a left at the Walgreens and walk down just past Food Lion grocery store. I walked the mile to where the clinic should have been. Nothing. I googled it and called. It was by the hospital, 2.3 miles in the opposite direction. Ugh. This would happen to me on our down day.
2.3 miles later I make it to the clinic. Get in and find out I'm 22 pounds (TWENTY TWO POUNDS!!!) lighter than when we started a month ago. I've heard this can be normal considering diet and the amount of activity. Still kinda crazy to me. I gave the lowdown to the nurse, then Doc comes in and first thing he says is "so what's your trail name?". I told him I don't have one and he replied that after a month I should have one! I agree! Anyway, I felt pretty good being at this clinic. Doc (trail name The Brawny Lad), thru hiked the AT in 1992. I appreciated his professional medical and trail experienced advice and suggestions. Another prescription for 2 more stronger drugs to knock this out. He said it could be moving from the allergens in Cali to the multitude along the trail, and also commented that this year is already worse too because of the tame winter. Another walk to the post office to look for missing packages (nothing again), and to Walgreens to get scripts filled.
Called Uncle Johnny's and talked to someone who was a lot more helpful and patient. Both of the missing packages had shown up. Chris' was actually there, but didn't have his last name. This guy gave it a little effort and figured it out. I talked to Johnny directly, and my filter will be there tomorrow. Looks like MSR pulled through, but still doesn't excuse the comment from the "customer service rep of the year".
Went to the KFC all you can eat buffet, where we talked to another family a pit our hike. Helped out, because on our walk back, the grandfather and grandmother gave us a lift back to the Super 8. Once again... Great people!
And as I'm on the phone with my Mom in the hallway, in walks Jersey Steve (who was at least a day ahead of us)! What the heck!?! After hearing about his crazy adventure and how he got here now, I suggested the trail name Houdini for him. He liked it and may take it. We'll see. The guy always shows up out of nowhere!