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[at-l] Report No. 000.01; with ThruHiker & ATLer sightings ...

I drove with Orange Bug from Atlanta, leaving around 3 pm, and arriving at
The Grande Gourmet B&D Restaurant, haunt of Avery Parapackers, Impurists,
and other assorted hiker trash, in Franklin after dark (we ran some errands
for the good Dr. before getting there). OB mentioned two or three times he
hoped to meet Sly & Cheryl, whom he expected in Franklin that week-end.  We
ran into thruhikers Derek and Ted chowing down at the B&D. Wearing sox with
sandles and convertible pants, their haute coture did not blend well into
the local background, and betrayed their intentions and identities, although
they protested, claiming to have known Rainbow Springs from childhood.

Driving back to Rock Gap, we wanted to camp near the famed Poplar Tree, but
failed to find it in the dark, so we returned to a very queit Rock Gap
Shelter to sleep for Friday night.  While falling asleep I notice three
hikers, whose names I did not know, leaving, heads down, with headlamps
lighting their foot steps. I have no idea why they chose to leave around
9:30 pm, though, perhaps, the next morning could provide a clue.

OB rose early Saturday morning, for a quick, before breakfast, walk to
Glassmine Gap and back. During this time I watched as the hikers,
week-enders, sectioners, and thruhikers woke up.  A mom and daughter team,
Mountain Laurel and Red Rover, rose first, pretty much at the same time OB
woke up. He gave Red Rover advice and medication for chaffing, which she
thought just had to be poison ivy from using the woods for a toilet.
Meanwhile I noticed this hiker packing and lighting his corn cobb pipe,
while still lying in the shelter in his sleeping bag. After OB left, Sly
appeared around the bend and stopped in for a chat. He wanted to make
Rainbow Springs that Saturday, awoke at 3:00am and couldn't get back to
sleep, so he left his hiking mate, Cheryl, behind for an early morning
stroll into Rock Gap Shelter.  Cheryl experiences leg pains which slow her
down considerably and Sly couldn't help but pass on some mahvelous quotes fr
om her of the complaint variety, which included choice words for her
congressmen about the archetecture and engineering of the famous foot path
she trod.

By this time, the corncobbpipe was up, letting everyone know it was he who
had shouted down the noise the night before around 7:30 pm. A section hiker
group together with some others, perhaps the three I saw leaving the night
before, had a conversation going, irritating corncobbpipe as he tried to
fall asleep. The section hiker group later apologized to corncobbpipe for
the viagra conversation the night before.  At least I now knew why the place
was so quiet when we arrived. Corncobbpipe was kind enough to let OB and I
know that we had not disturbed his rest with our late arrival. I also
noticed Zullu, Rochelle, Shaggy, Sunflower & Cheif rising for breakfast and
leaving, tho' I did not learn their names until later, at Rainbow Springs.

Sly and I chatted for an hour. Seems Sly had (along with Turkey, Greece, and
Europe) tooled around  Afganistan, Pakistan, and Iran in the early 70s, the
years I lived in the area, so we swapped stories about Afgan hospitality,
Baluchi head massages, and the incredible mountain scenery in the Suleiman,
Karakorum, and Hindu Kush.  Of the language, Sly could remarkably recall
only the word "charas." He could remember some stories to tell, tho', and I
thouroughly enjoyed meeting him.

Zullu was last to leave, asking directions to Rainbow Springs. Both Sly and
I explained he needed to pass the parking lot and get to Wallace Gap before
turning left. With Shaggy gone, it was just me and Sly. We continued
swapping stories. Eventually, Sly tired of waiting for OB, and left me alone
to guard the shelter and OB's pack until his return from Glassmine. He
returned just minutes after Sly left. They'd passed each other without
introducing themselves, OB asking the distance to Glassmine, and Sly giving
the 30 minute measure.  We put OB's pack back in the car and I saw him off
from Rock Gap (where I begin my HATT hike later this year!) to slack pack to
Wayah Gap where I'd arranged to meet him again at 3 pm.

Before OB left, however, we observed Zullu in the back of a Ford pick-up
truck. The truck of locals out ramp hunting, stopped, and Zullu, with corn
cobb pipe,  jumped out, explaining he'd turned left too soon, realizing his
error at Standing Indian Campground.  OB and I saw Zullu off to Wallace Gap
(he was going to Rainbow Springs), and later I waived good bye to OB and
drove off. On the way down to Rainbow Springs, I picked up Zullu and gave
him a ride to Rainbow Springs where I met Andy, Joey, and Burger or Smokie
(he has two trail names it seems).  Burger gets his name, he said, from his
feet; Shaggy's feet didn't look much different to me. Zullu got his name
from a chance meeting with a skunk somewhere in Georgia. Sly had already
arrived so I offered him the chance to meet OB by driving back to Wallace
and he accepted. We caught OB turning the bend above Wallace Gap, and
chatted a while.

I hung out with Joey, entering law school this fall, and talking about what
he could expect in that sorry excuse for ego crushing they call the
"socratic method."  I gave Joey, Andy and Shaggy a lift back to Wallace Gap.
Returning, I picked up Lindie and Tim for the ride to Rainbow. I asked if
anyone needed a ride to Frankly and Zullu, Sunflower, and her nine year old
boy, Chief, wanted a ride to town for Pizza and shopping. I took some pics
and obliged the three with a trip to Pizza Hut, Ingles, and Ace Hardware.
Sunflower and Cheif are a mother and son team, who originally started out
with Sunflower's mother. Their mother broke an ankle at Gooch Gap, and after
a short hospital stay returned to New Hampshire, leaving Sunflower and Chief
to finish the trip broken ankle had planned.  After returning the three to
Rainbow, and checking if anyone needed a oneway trip to Franklin, I drove to
Wayah Gap.

At Wayah Gap I watched and waited of OB to appear out of the woods. Wahoo
and Salamander appeared first and hurried on up Wayah Bald. Skip & Dar came
through next. I offered all four to top off their water supplies, but they
each declined.  While my back was turned at the car, retreiving my camera
and notebook, I noticed a north bounder disappearing into the woods, whom I
later learned was probably Keil. Alone again, I sat back to enjoy the
woodland sounds and scents, when I notice a new odor.
I looked up and this red coloured aparition appeared, follwed shortly
thereafter by a large, black haired Chow:  the SouthBounder known as Panama
Red, from the colour of his curly locks and beard, no doubt, and his
far-away demeanor, possibly. I gave him the rest of my Pepsi which he gladly
guzzled before climbing the steps onto Siler Bald's shoulder, his dog
following him. I told him if he met a balding gentleman who answered to the
name Orange Bug to tell him his friend was waiting in Wayah Gap.

Fifteen minutes later Papa Bob appeared, willing to take my offer of water
and to rest a bit before the next climb. Next came Little Bear, also willing
to accept water and a rest. Then Rochelle, who looked quite unhappy and
sick, explaining she'd eaten too much for lunch at Siler Bald.  While
topping off their water bottles, OB came out of the woods, glad to have
reached his goal, and ready to exceed it. After getting pics of them all,
they left for the arduous climb up to Wayah. I left for the spring, their
next rest stop after a two mile climb, and immediately started pumping water
for everyone.

They arrived in the same order, tho' I must have just missed Salamander and
Wahoo and Keil, whom I never saw again. I filled up all the water bottles as
they passed by. Rochelle became the Dr's next patient, briefly. OB gave her
Pepto Bismol and she arrived last, looking astonishingly better and stronger
for the climb and the medication. OB said he'd hit his wall with the climb
to the spring, but the others cheered him on to Wayah Bald, another two
miles or so. He changed into his hiking boots and pressed forward.

I filled up the water containers again, and headed for the top. They
appeared again, one at a time, in the same order. This time I offered each a
lamb curry for supper if I could convince them to stay and camp on Wayah
Bald, south and away from the observation deck. I offered to drive back to
the spring for water. They each declined prefering to press on to catch
Salamander, Wahoo, and Keil, if they could.

I had no trouble convincing OB to stop. We set up camp behind the bald. We
enjoyed lamb curry and couscous, washed down with Night Thunder before
retiring for some well earned rest. OB had exceeded his goal and his
expectations, walking some 25 miles that day, a quarter of his planned hike
to New Found Gap in the Smokies, and confident he could finish there next
Sunday, when I return to pick him up.

We watched the Sunday morning sun rise with hot cocoa and tea and I saw OB
off on his hike, this time with his pack, around 8 am, in time, perhaps, to
catch the crew that we'd met the day before. I did not see another hiker
Sunday when I returned to Atlanta.


----- Original Message -----
From: W F Thorneloe, MD <thornel@attglobal.net>