As nice as the hostel is, the bunkbeds here have the same crappy thin rubber mattress I experienced at Mountain Crossing. The lack of room mates allowed me to repurpose another mattress and double up my comfort level a little. For some crazy reason, I had signed myself up for breakfast this morning at 7. Seemed like a good idea last night. Not so much this morning as I lay there listening to my alarm, trying to convince myself to get up. The alternative is that I don’t eat until the shuttle takes me into town at 1pm. That’s a long time to wait for breakfast.
This dog has thru-hiked the AT!
After brekky, I managed to get some laundry done, and by that I mean Buttercup who works at the hostel did it for a small fee. They even outfit you with some scrubs so everything can get washed. Nice. Besides laundry services, the the Top of Georgia hostel also offer re-supplies, gear and you can also send out a package if you need to. Everyone is super friendly and there’s a very mellow atmosphere around the place. It is here that I learned that my new Superfeet insoles may be responsible for my knee issue. A lot of people find that they need to be broken in for several weeks before before heading out on a longer trip like this. It’s about the only thing that is completely new and untested in my set up, having picked up the insoles literally the day before I left.
I spent the rest of the day hanging out in town. First stop was lunch at Subway. The double meat sub did zero to satiate my appetite so I walked over to the burger place for round two only to discover that apparently they aren’t open on Sunday’s. Seriously, you’re a few miles away from the Appalachian trail where 2500 starving hikers through hike very year not to mention all the section hikers and you close on a Sunday?
Back at the hostel, I met up with Alaska Bill who I had first met at Mountain crossing and then again last night at the shelter. Bill is in his 60’s and as the name implies, is from Alaska. He recently lost his wife and thought he’d go for a walk to figure things out. He was in some pretty significant pain himself. “The old body isn’t what it used to be,”he said. He isn’t sure how far he’ll get or what he’s going to do if/when he gets off the trail. If you can get over the steep physical curve of hiking with a 30Ls backpack day in and day out, this type of a journey can be quite therapeutic for some.
In the meantime, the 2 kids and dad really wanted to complete all of Georgia so they left their packs behind and got dropped off just across the state line into North Carolina earlier today. They are all day hiking back to the hostel in an effort to finish Georgia off before heading back home to Ohio later today. A couple of young German girls arrived and checked in as Bill and I chatted. They’re on a driving/hiking trip of the US for a few weeks.
Injury report: knee still hurts to move pretty much all the time. I’m thinking maybe a couple more days to see what happens. Or at least that’s what I thought before heading to bed.
I woke up the following morning with my knee still throbbing. By the time I finished my tea I decided I was done. It’s not that it was an easy decision as I had been thinking about little else, but based on how I feel after a day and a half off, I just don’t think it will improve to the point where I can hike over mountains as a daily event for the next few months. I also think of all the other things I could be doing with my time rather than sitting around here wondering if my knee will improve. Lori already has a job, I should probably do the same, there’s also the Ontario HU meeting next weekend which Lori has already signed up for as a presenter that I could now attend.
But with Lori working, I was going to have to get home on my own. I tried to arrange for a car rental from Haiawasee to Buffalo on my phone but things weren’t going well. The first quote I managed to find online was $39 for the rental plus $.25/mile and an additional $280 fee for dropping off the rental in another city. That’s for a one day rental by the way. No thanks. I had a similar result with the next attempt. I know cheaper rentals can be had with unlimited miles so I expanded my pick up area a little and found a decent rate from Avis for $125. Seemed almost too good to be true so I called to double check the rate. Apparently it wasn’t accurate at all. I was told it would be $110 instead. Hmmm, twist my arm…ok! Only catch is that I now had to get myself to Asheville NC which is about 2 hrs away to pick up the car.
A moment later Buttercup put another damper in the plan when she told me that hostel wouldn’t shuttle me that far as that would take 4 hrs there and back. But she did give me a list of other people that offer shuttles. First names that immediately jumped off the page were Joyce & Sally who ironically enough were the ones Lori and I used to get dropped off on the AT and who we called to pick us up right here at Dick’s Gap when Lori’s knee gave out. I called them first and 20 min later I was sitting in Joyce’s Subaru being chauffeured to Asheville for the small fortune of $140. Still much much better than the $500 I started out with.
The adventure continued when I arrived at Avis in Asheville and was informed they were out of cars. “You’re what?” I asked. C’mon, you have one job, ONE JOB! (No I didn’t say that). Lady behind the counter advised me they were expecting a few vehicles back anytime, in fact 2 of the vehicles were already late. A gentleman walked in right after me and also got the bad news. I made myself comfy and txt Lori the update. 30 min later a Jeep compass was returned but the lady complains that something is wrong with the handling as it pulls a lot to one side, said it was “dangerous” in fact. I gave the lady behind the counter a look attempting to convey: “don’t be trying to give me that broken-ass vehicle!” The message seemed to be received as she said they would take it off the road and have someone look at the problem. Cue the next actors on this episode of Seinfeld: a group of three walked in for their reservation only to discover…NO CAR FOR YOU!!
Eventually another Compass came back and I offered it to the 3-some after learning they had a flight to catch in Charlotte. About the same time the Manager arrived and I could hear her tell the other lady behind the counter to clear everyone out. With that, as if by magic, she remembered they had a vehicle hiding in the back and offered it to me.
“And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?”
Just like that I was on my way home. I stopped for dinner at a 5 Guys Burger & Fries (yes I know you’re shocked to read this) and booked a hotel via Priceline’s Express Deal. Turned out to be one of the shwankiest places I’ve stayed so far. Definitely more upscale than my hammock in the middle of a torrential downpour.
My friend Paul happened to be in the states and offered to pick me up where I dropped off my ride in Buffalo the following afternoon. Thanks Paul!!
Surprisingly I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be about getting off the trail. Don’t get me wrong, thru-hiking the AT is still on my bucket list, but I can wait for that. There are too many things happening back home that I’m looking forward to. Getting Lori riding on her new bike, helping Kimberly pass her G2 drivers license, the HU meeting, hiking on the Bruce Trail, getting a job….ok so I’m excited about some of the things waiting for me back home. Maybe I’ll even catch up on the blog. HA! One day…