Day 31 – April 18, 2017
Today was a very special day. Not only was it my first full month on the trail, but I got to hike in Greene County, Tennessee, where I first dreamt of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The day started off foggy and gross out. Our plan was to hike 5 miles to the Hemlock Hollow Hostel to pick up our friend from there (Waffles returned his rental car in Greenville the day before and got a ride a ride up to the Hostel). Despite the 0.5 mile hike off the trail, I was looking forward to visiting the Hostel. I had stopped there 3 years ago after hiking a few miles of the AT to get ice cream. It’s also where I purchased my AT sticker that currently lives on my Nalgene.
Upon arrival, I learned it’s under new management. Instead of a grumpy, old lady, a new couple now owned it for the past year. Diana and her husband purchased it as a “vacation home” in TN. They still work in Florida, so her son lives there year-round to manage it. Diana works there in peak hiker season, and her husband visits when his job in Florida allows.
We spent a few hours on the giant front porch eating pizza, playing with the adorable dogs, and relaxing, as the rain steadily fell. If time allowed, I would have spent the night there. All hikers should visit!
A little reluctantly, we returned to the trail (the rain had slowed, so that helped). After struggling up a steep 3 miles ascent, we were back on top of Viking Mountain Road, where it intersected with the AT! The portion that I hiked before!
This section is unique because it had the old AT (blue blazed trail), called a bad weather trail. The new AT is an exposed ridgeline with many rocks and exceptional views (if it wasn’t so foggy!). Velveeta, Pippen, and I chose the much cooler, exposed ridgeline trail. The trail was even better than I remembered! The stone work was extremely well done and the hike was difficult, yet fun. It’s good that I had been before and knew the views, because all we saw was fog.
It was refreshing and exciting to be back where the idea all began. Then, it was just a dream that I was unsure would become a reality. And now, I’m out here, doing it! And loving it!
The day ended with a few more miles to camp, complete with good conversation and a failed attempt at leap frog with our packs on (turns out it’s extremely difficult to jump over a pack with a pack on).
I’m extremely lucky to be out here, making a lifelong dream a reality.