As I was taking the tent down, the first SOBO thru hiker I've met this trip greeted me as he strolled by -- on his way to Georgia, he said.
I offered my self-chosen trail name -- windlion, of course, my CB handle for the cross country trip the family took in 1985.-- he looked a little bashful, and replied, "Mine's Wrong Way."
"Yeah. Been there. Where are you stopping tonight?"
"Going off trail for a zero day at Buena Vista, actually."
"Ha ... you might run into a couple of section hikers bound for Georgia. They've got a German Shepard, well behaved once she knows you." We parted ways, and I finished packing up for an easy day walking up to Three Springs Hostel.
Except. "Hotel Trail" was not where AWOL's Guide and (I thought) the map I had for this section showed. Did I miss a turn? I followed the AT toward Cow Camp Gap, my next destination, over Cold Mountain, a mere 400 ft climb that felt almost as hard as The Priest. Time for a day off, I thought.
Several miles later, there was a trail marked as the "Old Hotel Trail". Sounds good, even if it isn't on the map! I took it, and it led me up and down through some beautiful scenery and past sevveral overlooks -- and back to the AT about noontime. Oh, well, Cow Camp Gap in 3.5 miles. I'll just skip the hostel resupply and catch a cab into a grocery store in Buena Vista, 6 miles off trail , maybe share a beer and give Roxanne another scratch.
|Three things an AT hiker is overjoyed to see|
Ha, the sign says this is the Hotel Trail? Does not match up with map at all, but maybe that resupply will happen after all. And if not, it still says "Cow Camp Gap 3.5 miles"
I never saw the hostel or Cow Camp Gap. What I reached the end of the Hotel Trail over more rough terrain late in the afternoon was a trailhead for the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area. I had no idea where I was and that my water was running low.
Tired, also. So I set up tent just off the trail for the second time in my wandering with no known water source nearby for my evening and morning meals.
I took an hour's nap inside the tent to avoid the gnats, then went out to explore, carefully mapping the road I followed -- and saw the AT logo ahead, I'm saved!
Wait, that post looks familiar. There, on the right, the meadow I slept in last night.
At least I knew where to get water.