There is nothing like the lure of a hot shower, clean clothes, and a town meal to get you out of a sleeping bag when it is 28 degrees outside. That, along with the threat of cold rain starting around noon, had me on a mission to get out of Dodge (or was that Hazzard County) and crush some trail miles as quickly as possible. Leaving camp at 9:30 am, it was my goal to cover 13 miles and arrive at Dick’s Creek Gap by 3:00 pm.

There was still some snow on the ground from the previous day, which made for a nice walk. The 800 foot climb up Tray Mountain didn’t seem too bad, but the 30 mph winds created a wind chill that made for a bracing wake up call. But what really kept me going was a brand new ear worm (you knew I wasn’t going to let that thread die).

“Baby the rain must fall.
Baby the wind must blow.
Wherever my heart leads me,
Baby I must go.”

I have no idea on this one. Maybe those of you that have more time and better internet than I do can work it out. I’m thinking it’s the soundtrack of an old 60’s Steve McQueen movie, but who knows. Remember that I have no control over the play selection. In any case, it worked to power me over Tray Mountain.

Appalachian Trail

Baby, the Wind Must Blow

I’m a little surprised that the tune wasn’t “One” by Three Dog Night because I didn’t see another living soul for the next two and a half hours. Then suddenly, a group of a dozen college students from Iowa, out enjoying a Spring Break adventure, appeared out of nowhere. I barely had time to grab a bandana and wipe all the snot off my face before they got too close to clearly see me. As it was, I probably still left them with a crazy old man in the woods impression as I cruised by on my mission to reach the Gap.

Appalachian Trail

The Big Climb

Speaking of Gaps, there was an intermediate Gap between me and my destination, called Addis Gap. Addis Gap was followed by the innocuous sounding Kelly Knob, which turned out to be a monster 825 foot climb in less that a mile. The song that got me up this one was “Sucking Wind” by Dennis OnthegO. I don’t know if it was because it was the end of the day, or because I might have been dehydrated from not taking enough water breaks, but I could not get the momentum going on this climb. It was more like 100 steps followed by 20 deep breaths, but even that will eventually get you to where you want to go.

Appalachian Trail

Headed Down

Appalachian Trail

Out of the Snow

The rest of the day was characterized by going downhill until I eventually left the white snow for the brown and green of the lower elevations. I’m so thankful that the predicted rain never materialized. It was 3:15 when I arrived at Dick’s Creek Gap and started what the guide book called “an easy half mile road walk” to the Top of Georgia Hostel. Upon arrival, I informed them that their description was deceptive and that there was no such thing as an “easy” road walk after a long day of walking. They thanked me for the input and took my money for the night’s stay.

There have been some mixed reviews lately about the Top of Georgia Hostel, but I found my stay there to be quite enjoyable. The owner, triple crowner Bob “Sir-Packs-Alot” Gabrielsen, and staff welcomed me and made me feel comfortable during the check-in process. For $25, you get a bunk and a hot shower with a towel. For $5 more, they will do your laundry and lend you a set of scrubs to wear in the interim. After wearing the same clothes for a week, the feel of cotton was wonderful (I’m guessing that the person washing those clothes probably didn’t share the same warm and fuzzy feeling).

The layout at the hostel is like two small three bedroom apartments with three bunk beds per room and a common kitchen area. In addition to a small camping supply store, there is also a larger common area that is open from 7 to 7 and features a fireplace, movies on DVD, a public computer, and a large kitchen and seating area for the “free” all you can eat cereal breakfast. They also sell some limited snack items and, since I missed the last shuttle to town while basking in a hot shower, I bought four hotdogs to microwave for supper. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

My bunk room mates include G-2 and his wife Speckled Hen, Peacewalker, and two other girls that I believe are from Sweden. Since I’m keeping track of all the medical professionals on the trail for future reference, I noted that Speckled Hen and Peacewalker are RN’s, and that one of the Swedes is an EMT. It feels really nice to be clean and out of the cold.