With the bad weather impending it became quite apparent wet weren’t the only ones that got off the trail. Upon checking in at the Sapphire Inn, wet quickly noticed some of our friends that had taken the same opportune moment to escape as well. Sharing stories and talking we caught up on each others past week, while settling in for the night. Everything we had was soaked, they’re want one thing that didn’t have water or moisture in it.
In getting everything out we took a good look at our gear and decided to make some changes. We couldn’t let a soaking like this happen again. My Columbia jacket had shit the bed miserably and needed to be replaced, I needed a pack cover since not everything I owned was in a dry sack, Kevin’s jacket faired better but he wanted to get a poncho just in case. It was a quick decision, we needed to go gear shopping asap.
I took the courtesy shuttle.from the Sapphire Inn in town. The bus was full of hikers and it remjnded me of being in a cattle car from the army. My first stop was Three Eagle Outfitters, the same place I had gotten my sleeping bag from. There main store looked like a log cabin with all the beautiful wood work, furniture, and accents. The sheer mass of thru hikers that had come through in the past few days decimated the stock of dry sacks, pack covers, stuff sacks, wet weather gear, and fuel. I want going to find any thing we needed here this time. I did however, notice how cheap it was to mail out from there.
While I waited for the shuttle to return I chatted with other hikers about their journeys and misfortunes. I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. Being soaked all day really takes it or of you. The same shuttle driver came and took us all back to the hotel whee all I could think of was a warm dry bed.
The next mooring I woke early wanting to go to town for supplies, Kevin is apparently sick and I’ll have to do it all myself today. I don’t know why he pushes himself so hard sometimes. Whatever, I’ve got things to do. Talking with the shuttle driver he let’s me know he can run me into town on the second run at eleven. Killing time talking with friends I make mental checklists of the things we need, rain jacket, poncho, knife, food, snacks, and to send out our gear we aren’t using.
Catching the shuttle in town I head to Outdoor 76 and spy some more of my friends. Sarge, Maple, and a few others are there getting great as well. Items bought we all head to lunch where Sarge and Maple conjole Kevin or of bed and out to lunch with the seven of us. Feeling refreshed and full I take the shuttle again to Three Eagles to mail out our stuff. It’s then that I finally realize that the shuttle driver is actually Ron the owner.
Thinking back, Rob had been driving hikers non stop all day at no charge, to town, to two or three spots on the trail, everywhere they need to go. He went out of his way to drop me in town when he was heading out of town. He is truly one of a kind, he actually reminds me a lot of my friend John back home, always there to give you a hand, really the best friend you could have.
Getting all my errands done I settled in for bed with a pizza Kevin had ordered and spent a restless night tossing and turning. My eye was sore and itchy. At first I thought I was dehydrated, with hydrating all day that can’t be the case. It can only be one thing. I couldn’t believe I had pink eye. What the crap, did I scratch my butt in the middle of the night and then rub my eye? I told Ron what was going on and he had one of his guys run me to the urgent care facility first thing. Ron said for me to call when I was done and that he would come get me back to the hotel.
Either way I spent the whole morning running around from the Dr to the pharmacy then back to the room. When i was finally done Ron showed up like he said, this time in his personal car. This gave me the oppurtunity to spend some time with Ron though. I can’t tell you how nice it is to here about his life and stories of why he does what he does. Ron’s whole ideal comes down to really one principal, if you work hard, you are honest and don’t cheat people, good things will happen for you.
Having some wisdom parted on me is usually not wasted and I truly liked hearing about how he got to where he was. Ron does everything he can for the hiker community in his area. After parting ways with him, we were picked up by Gene. Gene is the man, he has gotten us off trail in some far off places, given us tours of the towns and pretty much done what ever he could to help us out. If you had to get a shuttle from someone you wanted it from Gene. To date we have called Gene from Hiawasee to Franklin and he has always been there for us. Gene is definitely one of a kind too. Always taking the time to see what we need and helping us out. Today he ran us to the post office and waited while we mailed out a food drop before taking us back to the trail. Everywhere we go we refer people to Gene.