What feels like ages ago at mile 60 when Lindsey and I made our first town stop in Hiawassee, Ga, I made my first phone call to the rentals since I had last seen them as they drove away from Springer Mountain. The first thing my dad asks when I get him on the line was, “are ya seeing anybody else out there!?” Just a few.
We knew the AT was popular, but at mile 274.3 we did not expect there to still be soooo many hikers. It is quite literally the Appalachian Highway, complete with rest stops, road signs, mileage markers, and traffic. Every night when we stop to rest our feet we are joined by at least 20 other weary travelers, some familiar faces and some new, all with unique makes and models. There’s Doc, Bubbles, Sly Fox, Rage, Uke, Mudslide, Flavor Savor, Skeeter, Fancy Feet, Excited, Little Bear, Bear Bait, Invictus, Tempo, Pacer, Dorothy, Bogie, Honey Bun, Stink Bug, Jedediah, Tin Man-1, Tin Man-2, Scooter, The Safari Couple, Dangles, Z-pack man, The Hammock Boys, Rock Solid, Mailman, Tureke, Teen Wolf, Whisper, Upsy, Stretch, Smiles, Willy Make-it, Fast Eddy, Swamp Fox, DD, Grey Beard, Face Plant, The Germans, Scout, Hansel & Gretel, Skinny, Idaho, Tarzan, Sweet K, and a myriad of others we can’t remember, but I think you get the picture.
We have currently landed in Hot Springs, NC and the AT literally goes through the middle of town. The town is so small and it is teeming with hikers. Lindsey and I joke about how we, the hikers, are the locals. We are the townsfolk. We walk down the street and visit shops and restaurants and see so many familiar faces. How’s the weather? How are the kids are doing? When is the spaghetti dinner and bingo night? Which market has the best deal on Mac N Cheese? This is our town.
The highway is a wonderful place to meet everyone, but a part of me really hopes that the northern lands bring on flat tires, over heated engines, low fuel, and premature exits so we can maybe say this feels like our trail.