The biggest lie told on the AT, is that GA is the hardest state, and VA is flat. By the end of this day I would no longer believe the first part of this lie.
I crawled out of my slot in the shelter when the first light peered into the hollow. I woke up Ale while doing this and Maggie got up soon after. They had planned to start early this morning and make it to Tray Mountain shelter; I however had my sights on Top of Georgia Hostel. I had my pack packed and no breakfast in me but was ready to go.
“Well guys hate to do this but I’m splitting off.”
“You’re not going to Tray Mountain?” Ale asked as if he thought I was about to drop off the trail.
“No I’ve got to make it big today. I wanted to make it out of GA in 5 days so I gotta get to Dick’s Creek Gap.”
“O, well hope to see you again and good luck.”
“The same to you.”
I hit the trail that morning like I hit the Approach Trail 4 days ago. Although this time it was not an 8 mile climb but only a 7 and a half flat hike. The terrain was the easiest I had hiked yet. By 8 o’clock I had reached Blue Mountain shelter.
I stopped there to cook some oatmeal, and read from my Bible. I had no plan on where to read, I rarely do. So I just parted the pages at random and the good book was opened to Ecclesiastes. I skipped the first chapter and started on the second. None of the verses took they were all on the vanity of things, indulging in pleaser, possession, wisdom, but then toil. When it discussed the vanity of toil the verses 24 and 25 stood out to me as if they were bolded, italicized, and typed with a lime green font.
“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil this also I saw is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?” (Eccles 2:24-25)
These verses would stick with me throughout the trail.
I made for Tray Mountain that is where I planned on taking lunch. According to Maggie the night before storms were in the forecast and at the top of each summit I could see that to be true. But not where I stood.
The sun shown on me the whole day. Dark thunder clouds rumbled in the distance all around whatever mountain I was on. I watched lightning strike from Rocky Mountain, and even heard warning sirens in the distance.
I made it to Tray Mountain somewhere between 11 and 12. There was an open ledge that I sat at to eat. I ate with some other hikers but we only talked about the weather.
I stayed up at Tray Mountain for a little while. I was feeling groggy from the lack of sleep, and lay in the sun with my boots off. I might have dosed off for a time but it was not long. I was woken up by a small family, a husband, wife, and young kid.
Climbing Tray Mountain was not hard, but the trail after it was. I remember struggling quite a bit climbing Kelly Knob, but I can’t say why. From memory it was not rocky. I think it was steep and terribly closed up to where I could not judge distance. I sat and rested shortly after Deep Gap shelter and it must have been around 5, and I still had 3.6 mile to go then another half mile to Top of Georgia.
The 3.6 miles was long and steep down. The sky was darkening up and I was becoming frustrated. In my Awol it said Top of Georgia was open year round and the had a mark “7-7” which I took to mean 7am to 7pm. When I reached the bottom at Dicks Creek Gap, I felt accomplished but confused. It was a quarter till 7 and I had to figure out if I should just camp or try to get a bunk.
I decided bunk and having worked in hospitalities I figured the proprietor would be more than willing to take my money the 5 minutes after closing I would arrive. And at worst I would just hike back up to Dicks Creek and camp.
I was wrong.
I will not hold back any hatred for Top of Georgia; it was the worst place on the trail, and Sir Packs Alot was the worst person I meet on the trail.
As I neared the entry an Asian guy who had many tattoos came running out of the driveway. He saw me and said, “Hey man we’re closed.”
I stopped pulled out my phone and checked the time 6:58. “Ya’ll won’t just rent me a bunk for the night you only just closed.”
“Shit he might but I’m not working.” The guy continued his run and I continued on to get my bunk.
There was an after-hours bell at the door and I rang it maybe two minutes after 7. I saw a man take his time to answer the door behind the glass.
The Door opens:
“Hey I know you just closed but could you rent me a bunk for the night?” I asked.
“You know what closed means right.” Sir Packs Alot responded in a way that did not sound too tough.
“I can pay you extra.”
“No I can’t do that.”
“Fine I’ll be going then, sorry to bother you.”
“No, no I can’t do that, that’s not the hiker way.”
“So you’ll get me a room?”
“Yeah 25 dollars and do you want laundry? That’s an extra 5.”
I handed him the money and he left to get a waiver.
I stood there at the door thankful that I had made my first 25, and I wasn’t even out of GA yet. The hardest section of the AT. I thought about the struggle of the long miles this day had brought, and how the bed was going to fill all the better tonight because of it. And this reminded me of Eccles.
But there was Sir Packs Alot, and I’ll finish this night and tomorrow dealings with him tomorrow. Its better told all at once.