Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 10: Stalking the Pink Panther

Dscn4200March 17: The next morning, I met Jacoby while eating the continental breakfast at the hotel. I knew he had been planning on going into Helen for a maildrop but hadn’t realized we were at the same hotel. Later, Amanda caught sight of him about to hitch a ride back to the trail while I was still packing all of my gear and asked if she’d have time to take him to the trail while I was packing. “Yeah, sure!” I told her.

I waved Jacoby back towards our room explaining that Amanda could take him back to the trail. They left and I continued packing. When I was done, I left a note on the door for Amanda telling her that I walked over to the post office to ship my laptop ahead to Gatlinburg in case she got back before I did, then left to do just that.

Amanda caught up with me again at the post office, then we headed back to the hotel were we checked out and I got a ride back to the trail at Unicoi Gap.

Amanda had picked up the ice chest she had left the day before when she dropped Jacoby off—it had been cleaned out by thru-hikers except for one root beer. I was sure it would be a Cheerwine that was left thinking that a lot of people on the trail weren’t even going to know what that was, but all of the Cheerwines were gone. (Cheerwine is like a cherry cola—a very regional product that’s pretty well known in North Carolina, and somewhat known along bordering states, but you’d be hard-pressed to find it outside of those locations!)

Amanda and I hugged and parted ways. It would be awhile before I would see her again.

The rest of the day was largely uneventful. I caught up with Jacoby after only an hour of hiking which surprised me given his head start. Passed a few other hikers along the way, and I saw two different fires burning in the distance, but neither of them were in the direction of the trail or warranted my concern. I was a little surprised, though. Forest fires? But it had just been raining not that long ago! No lightning that I was aware of. Controlled burns, perhaps? Even more surprising, none of the other hikers I talked to had even noticed the smoke in the distance. If I hadn’t gotten photos, I might have thought someone was trying to gaslight me!

For the night, I headed into the Deep Gap Shelter and was somewhat surprised to see only one other person there—Pink Panther. I wasn’t really “stalking” her—I didn’t even know she was there until I arrived. I just liked the title “Stalking the Pink Panther.” =)

It was, by far, the emptiest shelter I had seen so far. Pink Panther said everyone else nearby wanted to walk the extra few miles to get a ride into Hiawassee leaving just her on the trail and until I showed up, she thought she might actually have the shelter to herself.

She set up her tent on the front porch of the shelter and said she could move it if it were a problem, but I didn’t have a problem with it. In fact, I’d been thinking I’d camp out under the stars myself since it wasn’t supposed to rain overnight and wound up joining her on the front porch area.

Pink Panther and I had some hiking experiences in common as well. This was her first long-distance thru-hike, but she was from Florida and to prepare and test her mettle, she did some dry runs along the Florida Trail including the Big-O hike with the Florida Trail Association which I had also done (back in 2008). So we reminiscenced about our times on the Florida Trail.

Near sunset, Jacoby rolled into camp. I’d given up on him arriving once it started getting dark, but by golly, he proved me wrong! He set up camp in the shelter.

Step count: 34,357 steps
Miles today: 13.1 miles
Total miles: 74.8 miles

If I hadn’t taken photos of the smoke in the distance, none of the other hikers I talked to would have believed me!

It’s a beautiful day for a hike!

Don’t worry! Be happy! =)

A hiker takes a rest with a view!

The Pink Panther set up her tent on the shelter’s front porch. (I’d do the same on the left side.)

Turns out, Pink Panther and I had both done the Big-O hike with the FTA around Lake Okeechobee, so we did a lot of talking about that. =) That’s a lot of orange for someone named Pink Panther, but I think her hiking clothes gave her her name—not her nighttime attire. =)


Unknown said...

We love some cheerwine here in Georgia =)
Enjoying the pictures!

figureeight said...

Forest Service has fire danger at a high level in this area of Ga. SC and NC. A few of the fires have been caused by cigarettes out the car window.