4/7/2018 – Day 29

Erwin, TN – zero day

Wasn’t planning on taking a zero today, but my mom’s original plan of hiking with me changed once we found out it was going to be cold and wet all day. She got here around 10am and brought the blue Osprey pack because the green one won’t tighten around my hips anymore. The blue one fit much better! I found out last night that Braden and Racheal are in Erwin and decided to take a zero also. They ended up joining my mom and I for lunch at Las Jalapenos and our resupply at Wal-Mart. Great to see them again and to know we’ll probably be hiking to the same shelter tomorrow. Staying in the hostel part of Uncle Johnny’s tonight. A lot of people in here that I met in Hot Springs. Pretty relaxed night hanging out in the hostel where it’s warm. I’m debating doing 2 21/22-mile days to be able to stay at Overmountain Shelter before I get to Mountain Harbor. The terrain doesn’t seem so bad. Just a lot of uphill to get out of Erwin, so we’ll see how it goes.

Today was very cold and rainy all day. I knew before my mom made it to Erwin that there was no way either of us would want to hike in this weather. I was right. When my mom did finally make it, she said she would just hang around with me for the day to explore Erwin and hang out with other hikers. With her, she brought her extra osprey pack for me to try on because it was a smaller model than the pack that I had been using so far. I tried it on and the hip belt tightened enough with extra space left for me to tighten it more when I needed to. It was a huge relief to have a pack that fit me again.

Late last night, I got a message from Racheal and Braden that they were in Erwin and were planning on taking a zero day. They opted to stay in a motel instead of the hostel which is why I did not see them when they made it to Erwin. I messaged them to ask if they would want to join my mom and I for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in town and that my mom would be able to pick them up and drop them off at the motel. That was an easy offer to accept and my mom then got to meet two of my closest friends that I had made on the AT so far. Any future AT hikers who are reading this, I highly recommend Las Jalapenos in Erwin, TN. Delicious food with enough to fill up any thru hiker. None of us had resupplied yet so after we finished eating, my mom drove us to Wal-Mart to get food for the next section of the AT. We met back up at the front of Wal-Mart, dropped Racheal and Braden back at the motel, and headed back to Uncle Johnny’s.

There wasn’t an available cabin for me to stay in this night so I stayed in the hostel. Most of the people in the hostel that night, I had met in Hot Springs when we were all treated to a big Easter meal . One of those people included a veteran who was hiking with her service dog. Unfortunately, I did not record her name and do not remember it now, but I do remember part of her story. She was discharged from the military after suffering severe injuries following a fall from a tower. She still has lasting effects from that fall that flare up randomly which is why she has her service dog. This dog was huge and fluffy and one of the nicest dogs I’ve ever met. When she wasn’t wearing her service dog vest, she was very playful and would move from bed to bed in the hostel to take naps around different people. I was very happy to see them both again.

My mom hung out for a while with the other hikers and I in the hostel but she had a long drive back to South Carolina, so we got a picture together and said our goodbyes. After she left, a lot of hikers went into town on the shuttle to get dinner but I opted to stay at the hostel. The outfitter store at the hostel also sold small frozen pizzas so I got two of those to eat for dinner. While at the store, I asked if I would be able to exchange my darn tough socks that have holes in them for a new pair. Darn Tough socks have a lifetime warranty so if any holes appear from normal wear and tear, they will replace them for free. Some outfitters even offer to swap them out for you and thankfully at Uncle Johnny’s, I was able to do that. They told me to put my old socks in a sealable bag – to contain the smell – and then pick out a new pair of darn tough socks that are the price equivalent of the ones I was turning in. The hostel will send my socks with holes to Darn Tough with the tags of the new socks I picked out so that their store could be reimbursed. I got two new pairs of socks that day and am still using those socks to hike now in 2020.

I was planning two longs days of hiking out of Erwin to make it to Overmountain Shelter before the next hostel I was planning on staying at. Overmountain Shelter is an old converted barn that fits up to 24 hikers. I had stayed there once before on a section hike with my mom and knew I wanted to stay there again. I went to bed early before any other hikers but before I was able to dose off, I heard some people asking, “Is Slider here?” and “Where is Slider?” I recognized those voices and immediately jumped out of bed to see Grant and Graham standing in the hostel. I was very tired, but so excited to see them again that I hung out with them outside by a fire some other hikers made. It was raining lightly outside, but I managed to stay awake for another hour with them before finally turning in to bed. Tomorrow was going to be an early morning.

My mom (Italian Ice) and I taking a picture while sitting on my hostel bed before she left to drive back to SC.

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