I had met Little Bear through my blog before my 2016 hike. She started commenting on my blog, and I started reading hers. At that time, she was preparing for a ‘shake-down’ hike on The Vermont Long Trail. She and I just hit it off. We both suffer from an Auto Immune disease, so that was a common factor that drew us together, but we both love the A.T., and love to hike, which was an even bigger commonality. She was a big supporter of my 2016 hike, and even sent me a care package!
Little Bear completed a thru-hike of the A.T. in 2017. She did a ‘flip-flop’ hike, meaning she started in Harper’s Ferry, VA and hiked North to Mt. Katahdin, in Maine. Then she ‘flipped’ down to Harper’s Ferry, VA and hiked South to Springer Mt., Georgia. I wanted her to finish so badly…not only because I know what it’s like to deal with symptoms of an Auto-Immune disease, but also, because I knew how I felt NOT FINISHING my hike.
Amy is a Dental Hygienest by day (she cleans teeth) and a wife to her (apparently awesome) Husband (I haven’t met him yet-only heard about him at this point.) She is also a great Mom to her adorably cute dog, Berkely. She has is a runner, and has competed in Iron Man competitions and Triathalons, and now has a completed thru-hike to add to her accomplishments.
We had a terrible time trying to coordinate Amy’s meeting up with me to hike. I don’t have cell service most of the time while I am on the trail. I’ve had some trouble with my emails having a time delay to them recently. Bud has also said there is often a time-lag with my Inreach messages. Those are transmitted via satellite. When I stopped at the Hostel for a day after my freezing night in the tent, and when I decided to take a zero there, I was sure our plans would fold. Amy was persistent in making it happen, and I’m so glad she did!
Amy, her Mom and Berkely had reserved a cabin in Erwin, TN. Amy decided she would hike in from there, meet me on the trail, and then hike back with me. When I got to No Business Knob Shelter, I was just going to sit down for a few minutes to rest my legs, but I looked up before sitting, and I saw her coming up the trail. I immediately knew it was her, because I had seen her picture on her blog so many times. I gave her a hug, and then reached around and enviously squeezed her very lean pack! (She was slack-packing since she didn’t have to camp out and was only out for a few hours.) She looked adorable. 🙂
The hike to Erwin was fun. We talked about hiking, gear, thru-hikes, food, diets…and chickens. 🙂 I liked her as much in person as I had grown to like her through her blog. Over a few days, I would grow to love not only her, but her Mom and Berkely as well.
When we got to bottom of the trail toward Erwin, I met Bev (Little Bear’s Mom) and Berkely. They were out for a walk and Berkely had taken Bev up the trail. Little Bear had reserved a cabin for us all. She wouldn’t accept my monetary contribution. She adamately wanted to give me ‘trail magic’.
I can’t tell you how happy I was to be in that cabin! The weather turned very nasty shortly after we made it to Erwin. I took a much-needed shower (even though it had only been 2 days since my last one) and then we sat in the cabin and got to know each other better. They had brought all sorts of food and snacks, and kept offering to let me have some. (They buy the good stuff–organic blue corn tortilla chips, what I call ‘good’ cheese, salsa, apples, dark chocolate…I could go on and on about what all they brought!)
Later, Bev (Mom) took us out to supper at an Italian Restaurant. She insisted on paying. (It’s so hard for me to ‘receive’.) I had Pasta Primavera that was ‘to die for’ with buttery bread. They also ordered a huge Caesar Salad, which we split amongst the three of us. The salad was also ‘to die for’ with lettuce, cucumbers, olives, broccoli…I can’t even name all of the veggies in both the salad and pasta, because I had not seen them for a month or more since I got on the trail!
The next day, the weather was also terrible; it was windy, cold and wet! Bud was driving up to get me that day and take me home for a week. We spent the day in the cabin laughing and getting to know each other better. I spent a lot of time petting Berkely, too. He is such a good natured little dog. While Amy napped, Bev listened to me talk and let me cry. She is a former Nurse, and I appreciated her motherly advice so much! It made me miss my own Mom so much! I enjoyed my time with these lovely people SO MUCH! I have made some friends for life.
Thank you Little Bear and Bev for everything–the cabin stay, the awesome meal, the snacks, the good conversations and mostly, for your friendship. You truly touched my heart. My time with you will easily be one of the top highlights of my hike!
Bud had, at first, planned to get to Erwin at around 4:00. We were going to turn right around and drive back home. I got a phone call from him letting me know he was going to be late. He had taken a wrong turn, and ended up somewhere south of Asheville, N.C. before he realized he was going in the wrong direction. He had stopped at a Visitor’s Center to get a map, but it was closed. When he came back out to his car, he saw that he had a flat tire! He first tried to use fix-a-flat, but when it didn’t work, he had to put the donut spare on.
Bud limped on the donut, hoping to get to a place where he could get his tire fixed or replaced. When he finally found a place in Waynesville, the tire repairman had already gone home for the day. The lady at the desk called him, and he drove back into town to fix Bud’s tire! Finally, Bud was back on the road. When he was within 15 miles of Erwin, TN, the tire just disintegrated, with the tread separating completely from the rim. It looked like someone had taken a large knife and cut all the way around the rim on both sides. When I saw the tire, I was very surprised he did not lose control of the car.
When Bud first called me to let me know he had taken a wrong turn, I thought he was pulling my leg. There have been so many times that he has been gone a trip, called me from just up the hill, leading me to believe he is far away, and then two minutes later, He pulls into the driveway. He does this to make it more dramatic and surprising to me. I literally could not believe he was serious that he had taken a wrong turn (and getting so far away from Erwin before he realized it,) then having a flat tire, getting it fixed, only to have it blow out on him! Bev kept assuring me that he would not pull my leg when he knew I was a nervous, worried, wreck waiting for him to get to me safely!
Bud limped into Erwin on the donut spare (no place was open that could fix the tire at that hour) and he arrived at the cabin door at around 9:30 p.m.! I was never so happy to see him, and gave him a big hug and a small kiss. We were self-conscious with Little Bear, Bev and Berkely watching us.
There was no way we could travel until we were able to get a new tire, and that would not happen until morning. The cabin had a double or queen sized bunk, and Little Bear graciously offered to let us stay overnight there. Little Bear, her Mom and Berkely were on the lower bunk. Bud and I were on the top bunk. Bud had to sleep in his clothes that night, but somehow, he was able to get some sleep!
(To Be Continued…)