Monday, May 20th, 2019
We quietly broke down camp as to not disturb any of the residents in the RV park, and walked back to Foster’s Mill Store to eat breakfast pizza and drink coffee. Spacejam joined us briefly before walking ahead. He’s been having trouble dealing with the sun and the heat, so he wanted to get an early start while it was still cool out. We enjoyed our caffeine-filled beverages in the store for a bit before we hit the road.
It was a long walk down the highway while rubbernecking at all the little roadside items as we passed through. A Robert Johns record, baby shark and chick stuffed animals, a dead opossum laying next to a dead vulture laying next to a dead armadillo, a deck railing, red basketball shorts, toilet paper covered in poo, a surgical mask, and various other items.
Shortly after hitting mile 200 on the trail, we stopped to watch a swarm of swallows fly out from underneath the Coosa River Bridge. There was a very unpleasant odor in the air from a nearby paper mill as we continued onward.
Once we got to State Highway 20, we resupplied at the Dollar General. I decided to walk down the street to Circle K to see if they had some better options and crossed paths with Spacejam on my way there. He had just eaten at Martha’s Skillet which was a tiny restaurant near the Circle K, so Frisbee and I decided to eat there while Spacejam got his own resupply together. We got some delicious homestyle cooking there. I ordered the Beef Stroganoff, fried okra and cole slaw.
After we finished our meal, we chatted with two locals that were sitting at the table next to ours. We talked about our hike, explained to them why you don’t need guns on the trail (something we debate often with non-hikers), and exchanged some stories. One of them told us about working with bears at a place that took in wildlife for rehabilitation. The other told us that many years ago, he got lost while driving through Kentucky and a man pointed a gun to his chest when he accidentally stumbled upon his marijuana field. He was told to go back to where he came from and of course, he did just that. Spacejam joined us at the restaurant, then we packed up and left once our electronics were plenty charged.
The road walk continued passed the smelly paper mill. Logging trucks frequently drove by to drop off lumber and the road was scattered with wood debris. After seeing how large some of the debris was, I was a little nervous over what could come flying at me as I walked down the road.
We made one more pit stop at the Citgo gas station to grab cold water, then took Huffaker Road to the Simms Mountain rail trail. It was a little weedy, but nowhere near as overgrown as some of the hiking we’ve been doing, so I wasn’t complaining.
Once we were near mile 216.9, a bunch of dogs came running down from a nearby house. From the other direction, a man on an ATV came flying up behind us and started hooting and hollering as he chased the dogs back to their residence. His name was Wallace, and he lived nearby on a farm. He asked us where we were sleeping for the night. We told him we weren’t sure. We rarely tell people where we’re sleeping for safety reasons. Plus we really actually weren’t sure where we were going to sleep! We just knew that there was rumored to be a restaurant in the tiny town ahead of us, and we planned on pulling a hat trick by getting all three meals of the day in a town.
“Oh that place has been long gone for years. But you three are welcome to come stay on the farm. You can set up your tents there, get some water, do laundry and there’s a shower in the barn.”
Disappointed to hear about the restaurant, we looked at one another, trying to read what the other was thinking to figure out what we should do next. Spacejam responded, “I guess we could fill up on some water, and a shower sounds nice.”
Wallace started hooting and hollering like a banshee and led us the way. Unsure about this wild man we just met with a handgun holstered to his hip, Frisbee said to Spacejam under his breathe, “…or maybe JUST fill up on some water.”
As we passed through a couple gates to get to his house, I continued to feel nervous when he mentioned that his next door neighbor was a retired sniper and could get a clear shot of people who trespassed on his property. However, he did mention that he had a hiker stay a night with him years ago and that the guy ended up living there with them for a whole year. I just hoped that this was by choice!
After filling up our water bottles and eating out of our food bags under his carport, we really got to know Wallace and realized he was totally harmless. He was a just a really friendly guy who liked the talk to hikers and enjoyed hooting and hollering, which he did A LOT! We quickly got used to his wild energy, and met his wife Judy, their two outside dogs (Haus and J.W. which was short for Judy and Wallace) their two tiny indoor dogs, and their horses and mules which were grazing next to the property. Judy told us how Wallace started hooting and hollering outside of church, scaring the daylights out of a few old ladies present.
“Hey, I waited until they were down the steps,” Wallace said in defense.
They were both incredibly kind, so we decided to take him up on his previous offer. We showered off in their really cool barn shower and rinsed off a couple items of clothing while we were in there. Spacejam camped underneath the carport and we set up our tent out front of the barn. Once we settled in the tent, a very low flying plane flew overtop of us, and we fell asleep as we listened to the neighborhood dogs which barked all night long in the distance.
23.8 miles (38.3 km)