Gatlinburg!

5-14-12
AT miles hiked: 4.5
Total AT miles hiked: 206.8
Non AT miles: .5 from the shelter and about 3-4 town miles

This picture is of Rob and Katie, our trail angels who, on their honeymoon, picked up two muddy, wet, stinky, pathetic hikers and drove us to Gatlinburg, plus told us about free moonshine samples in town. Thank you! You guys made our day and I hope you have a great honeymoon and life. You are wonderful and kind people.

Typical Nero day activities:

Hike into a town or a road to town; find a ride into town-pay if necessary; find a place to sleep; take a shower; get coins and detergent; do laundry; air out and dry sleeping bag, tent, ground cloth, pack, pack cover, shoes and all other gear; begin charging batteries for electronic devices-usually takes all day and night; call and text family and friends-while charging phone if possible; find resupply stores-mostly groceries and restaurants; find outfitter; eat food; go to stores and buy stuff for the next three to five days; arrange a shuttle or plan a time and a method to leave town the next morning; deal with any issues from home or health issues; count your money and wonder how to get more now that you are unemployed; spend some on beer and hot or cold food anyway; see hikers you thought you would never see again because they are waiting for a package and got to town late on Friday and had to stay through the weekend (now they are cooking Ramen in their hotel rooms, after three days in town); think about having a party with friends but fall asleep before midnight anyway; get up at 6:30 the next morning though you will probably not get to the trail until after 11am because the shuttle goes through several towns before it drops you off; wash stinky, muddy socks in the sink at midnight because they were in the bottom of your pack and you forgot to wash them with your laundry; write your blog or journal and think about finding the earplugs; consult the guidebook and make plans for the next few days to the next resupply point; plan a second shower in the morning because all of your nails are somehow still dirty-also it feels so good and you sweated walking all around town; realize your clothes or shoes or pack stink again, or never stopped smelling despite being washed or dried out; look forward to the simplicity of the single task of just walking; breathe a sigh of relief as you hoist your extra heavy pack, weighed down again with food, and walk into the mountains for the next three to five days.

Town visits are exhausting and expensive, and fun and awesome, even if you take a full zero day. A nero day is cheaper, but more stressful, cramming all your town chores into a partial day.

I sampled a bunch of different kinds of legal moonshine tonight, and Gatlinburg was like a giant fair or festival. We tried to experience the town, but took too long finishing our chores and things closed and we got tired. So it goes.

I look forward to some real zero days after the Smokies, even in the mountains, as long as I have enough food. I have barely enough food for three days, because I had extra when I got here, so bought hardly any. Spider and ET said it took them years to learn which foods were their first choices and how much to bring. I hope I learn that before my hike is over.

And yes, I did think about buying a stove after yesterday, but I never used my secret weapon, the hand warmer and I got too hot later that night. Also, I mostly like the Pro and Cliff and Larabars and trail mix to snack on during the day and I don't want to cook in the morning.

It's after 1am and the neighbors next door in the hotel, who are hikers, are still having fun. I thought about joining, but I am too tired and have a tough hiking day planned for tomorrow. Maybe next time.