Most Appalachian Trail thru-hikers adopt a trail name. Trail names are either chosen by the individual, such as my name, OnthegO, or the individual lets the trail choose the name for them. Names bestowed by the trail are usually the result of an unfortunate incident or embarrassing quirk. With that being said, I thought, that in the absence of trail news, it would be a good time to introduce you to the cast of characters that I have met so far.
G2 and Speckled Hen – G2 retired from the Army as a Sargent Major after serving 28 years doing Army Intelligence (isn’t that an oxymoron) and his wife Speckled Hen is a retired Army Nurse. They have sold all of their possessions and plan to buy and live in a RV after completing the trail.
Happy Jack – A 10 year old boy who is hiking with his mother as part of his homeschooling.
Namaste – A 27 year old from the Midwest that studied yoga in India. Now she stands outside her tent in yoga pants striking yoga poses (so I’m told) and is maintaining a 100% herbivore diet on the trail.
Peacewalker – A Registered Nurse from Sweden who was previously doing hospital equipment sales.
Broken Arrow – A woman in her 70’s who is hiking solo. Whatever her destination, it will be a thru-hike for her. I respect that.
Bushy and Sparky – I got to meet this couple while doing a training hike at Torreya State Park. They live somewhere near Tallahassee, FL, and Sparky is a retired Navy radioman. They are a few days behind me.
Cotton – I ran in to Cotton several times in Pensacola. He is 69, a retired Merchant Marine, and accomplished photographer. He is a few days ahead of me.
Blue Smurf – He is from Niceville, FL.
Vitamin D – He is from Destin, FL.
Cousin Eddie – She spent a couple of nights in her parent’s RV.
T-Bone – The name adopted by hiker #481 that started with me. He was a beverage distributor in Memphis, TN.
5 Star – An EMT (as you might recall, I’m keeping track of the whereabouts of all medical professionals).
Others that I have met, but don’t yet know a lot about, are Tada, Hulahoop, Chuckles, BooBoo, Pocket, Firefly, Rock Hopper, & Mandrake.
The hikers on the trail span the generations and come from all backgrounds and careers. They are also international in scope. I’ve met hikers from Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and Great Britain. For some reason, surprisingly, what is glaringly missing from the hiker population is diversity. I’m not sure why that is the case, but so far, I’ve only met one black man (and he, fortunately, had a pretty good sense of humor about the situation).
This afternoon, while I was walking to Ingles, a grocery store with an amazing resemblance to the Publix chain back home, I passed Terry “Seven” Coyle and his girlfriend Perfect Storm. Seven is somewhat of a YouTube sensation in the A.T. community, having made trail films for the past ten years which are posted on his Hikertrash channel. I tried not to act like too much of a fanboy, but I did stop him, introduce myself, and tell him I was happy to meet him. He told me that he would be staying at the Holiday Inn, where I have run into him several times since.
After returning to my room with my Englesub (it doesn’t have the same ring to it as a Pubsub), I returned to Bacchus Beer and Growlers, since their power had been restored. For anyone that might find themselves in Hiawassee, I have to give this place two huge thumbs up. Bacchus is NOT the place to go if you are looking to tie one on while drinking Bud Light (is that even a beer?). It IS the place to go if you love and appreciate good craft beers. First, Ed and Lind, the proprietors, are the most gracious and welcoming hosts you could possibly hope to meet (Lind runs Bacchus Wines next door). Second, Ed has a wealth of knowledge about craft beer and can recite abv, Ibu, hop variety, and brewery about a vast array of brews. Third, the locals that visit there are super friendly and share the same love of craft beers. Ed and the locals are really high on the Wicked Weed Brewery (see what I did there) in Asheville, NC, and convinced me to add it to my list of places to visit. Overall, I spent a wonderful afternoon talking and sampling great beers at Bacchus. I was even able to score one of my bucket list beers (I have NEVER seen it for sale anywhere else before), the Bomb! by Prairie Artisan Ales.
Before I sign off, I want to introduce you to my roommates for the past two days. The Cutest Couple on the Trail still do not have Trail names, so henceforth, I will call them CCOTT for brevity (not related to my Cousin who used to call himself CCOTN or Coolest Cousin on the Net). He is a Civil Engineer and she is a Graphic Designer and they are both from New Brunswick, Canada. French is their first language, which is forcing me to speak better English, and it has been very nice getting to know them better.
Tomorrow, the transient population of Hiawassee will be returning to the trail. The weather forecast is calling for a really cold night tomorrow, but all of my gear is bone dry, and I’m looking forward being in the woods again.