In case you haven’t been reading, my husband (trail name: Frisbee), had rode down to Georgia with Neal, our friend from home to re-hike a section of the Appalachian Trail (AT), with some former members of our trail family (aka: ‘tramily‘), from our 2016 and 2017 hikes. They were going to hike the Approach Trail to Springer Mountain in Georgia, the southern terminus of the AT, and continue northbound until they reached the trail town of Franklin, North Carolina.
I was unable to join in on the fun: one, because I just started a new job and two, I’m still in limbo regarding the progress of my treatment for osteopenia. So obviously, I’m not gonna be a month into my job and say, “Hey boss! Guess what? I’m leaving for two weeks, and there’s a good possibility I might return with a fractured leg. Sorry, not sorry! By-eeeeee!”
However, not making an appearance at all to the ‘tramily’ reunion, in one of my favorite trail towns no less, was not an option. So I left home around 5 pm after work for the 8.5 hour journey, only stopping for McDonald’s and coffee, one of those stops for Micky D’s being at the same Greyhound bus stop that I was stuck at one year prior. I also made an attempt to sleep at a rest stop which failed after two hours, and had to pull over yet again to be gifted a speeding ticket from Virginia’s finest right outside of Marion, Virginia, one of the towns I hiked into two years prior.
By the time I got to Franklin, the sun, as well as all the stinky freeloaders crammed inside the Sapphire Inn, were starting to rise. I was incredibly sleep deprived, but it was ‘free pancakes and bacon’ time at the First Baptist Church, so sleep would have to wait.
I only had a little over 24 hours before it was time to drive back home, however it was well worth catching up with everyone from trail past. Hikers were there from our first year on the AT in 2016. The second person we ever met before our hike, Wokman, hiked with Frisbee and the others for part of the journey while shuttling around the gaps throwing trail magic with his wife Honey, and their three kids. They also threw some awesome trail magic right out front of the hotel, serving up beers, burgers and hot dogs.
One of the wisest and strongest hikers I know, Strider, was also there. He’s pretty much on the same level of awesome-ness, if not higher, as Chuck Norris, and he’s re-hiking the AT in its entirety after he had finished it in 2016 and completed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2017. I’m proud to say I hiked many miles of the AT with him. Also, if you’re into science fiction, you should check out the book he just published, “2042: The Change“.
Another 2016 hiker, Brother Blood, who also happened to be in Franklin at the time, and also has a book available on Kindle was there too. I’m still waiting on the printed version so I haven’t read it yet, but he said I’m in it.
Of course, it was also super rad to catch up with trail family from 2017, all of which I summited Mount Katahdin with. There was Cricket who has just recently traveled west to California to hike the PCT with his girlfriend Peanut (another former AT hiker friend of ours). There’s also our adorable, candy-eating “trail son” Gumby, who we hiked most of the AT with last year, and one of the first newbs we ever met in 2017, that I gladly named, Middle Brother, who is still the lovable nut job I remember him to be. I’ve missed all of these people so much.
We had a lot of fun wandering around town and although I was rolling sober, we hit up all the breweries and bars downtown. The visit would not go without drama though. While Wokman was watching the kids, we went out with his wife to the “Lazy Hiker Brewing Co“. Frisbee gave a few hikers that he had met during his section a ride in Wokman’s car in-between. One of those hikers, whose trail name I will leave out, was incredibly intoxicated and was convinced that Frisbee had stolen an “item” of his during the drive. While we were all having a great time inside, he had returned and busted out Wok’s car window, then disappeared back to his room across town.
We all chose the high road, trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, and through social media, we were able to track down his info and leave him a voicemail on his phone hoping he’d sober up and realize he fucked up, and get back to us. We were all pleasantly surprised when he returned the next morning, ashamed, bewildered, and completely apologetic. He, of course, found said “item” back in his hotel room, and he made things right.
Fortunately, all worked out in the end. Being someone who has had her own troubles with booze in the past, I can only hope that he’ll be more careful about his drinking in the future. He seemed like a legit dude outside of his little faux pas, and I wish him the very best on his thru hike and in life.
The time spent with our former thru hiker friends, the Franklin locals, and those AT hopefuls I met during my brief visit, all felt so bittersweet. As much as I hated the AT for breaking me time and time again, I miss it more than words can say. Although I’ve hiked the entire distance of the AT (given my 2017 repeated mileage), I only have a short section in Pennsylvania left before I can say I have walked every mile of the trail. I wasn’t planning on returning anytime soon, possibly ever, but my visit in Franklin was just the kick in the ass I needed to motivate me to finish what I started two years ago.
Rocksylvania… I’m coming for you!