Carey Kish is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a distance of 2,200 miles over a period of 5-6 months. Entries from Carey’s trail journal are presented here. You can also follow his journey on Facebook.
March 30, 2015: Rock Gap Shelter to Winding Stair Gap, 3.7 miles, 8:15 to 9:45am.
Just so you know, late starts have been the rule since the get-go of this trip. Early on it wasn’t getting to be daylight until 8am. Not that I minded or anything, me being a big morning person and all. At that point 9 or 9:30 starts were the rule. Gradually it’s gotten light out earlier; now it’s probably right about 7:30 or a touch earlier. Has that meant a shift in start time on the trail? Nada. One can be hopeful of course.
The long and the short of it is, on this particular morning I had to get me and my act up the trail nearly 4 miles by 11am in order to meet the 11am shuttle into Franklin, a long 11 miles and less-than-pleasant hitch east of the AT. That said, I was outta the shelter and tooling along the trail a little after eight, somewhat of a personal record.
A guy was there with coffee and stuff, doing the trail magic thing. Couldn’t take advantage as I was still full from breakfast. Hikers appeared off the trail from both directions, most continuing on. Some gathered for the shuttle. Others not staying at Haven’s Budget Inn, the provider of the shuttle, tried hitching in. Good luck with that. Those that did ended up giving up and starting to walk into town. Been there, done that. Reservation with the motel was firm, so no hitching for me. Hopefully not ever again.
Ron Haven and his shuttle bus appeared right on schedule around an hour and a half late, like 12:30. Oh well. We hikers hot a well-narrated tour on the ride into Franklin, and a healthy dose of a true blue western North Carolina accent. He’s a good guy and loves his Franklin. Hikers too, them being good business each spring.
The Budget Inn is a throwback to the 1950s for sure. And believe it or not, as soon as we pulled up I recognized it as the place I’d stayed on my 1977 thru-hike. Wow. Little office out front, rooms of old 50s and 60s furniture, tiles of mustard and pea green in the bathroom. It was a hoot.
All I cared about was that it was relatively clean. Relatively. I tried not to look too close. It would do just fine. At that, proceeded to hiker-trash the room, unleashing every piece of gear into every available piece of furniture to air and dry. Laundry was next, across the courtyard and in under a shed-like building. $2.50. Good deal for wash and dry.
To McDonald’s for lunch next, a half-mile hike. Chow chow chow. Picked up a six of Bud’s best Light at a liquor store on ten return trip (these small towns down here often don’t have much for beer).
Up into the center of the old downtown next. The town in so many ways hadn’t changed a bit since I was here last in 1977. Amazing. The store fronts are different, but the situation, the setting is all the same. A snapshot in time, and I was living in it then and now. Must say, unlike many such small towns, this one had done a heckuva job keeping its storefronts filled. But no more Rexall Drug or Woolworth and the like.
Outdoor 76 was my goal. All I needed was canister of fuel and I got it. But since this was the only outfitter I’d ever seen with a bar in the back, I naturally stayed and had a beer(s), enjoyed in style with a couple of other thru’s. Good times.
Back at the motel, several of us rounded up and sauntered down to Mulligan’s for some dinner grub and a brew. Later, I finished off the couple of PBRs that just so happened to arrive on my resupply box. Dropped into bed early. Would be another early morning, this one off to the Baptist church for their hiker breakfast and a little salvation perhaps. Zzzzz…