I spent my first zero day at Gooder Grove hostel in Franklin NC and it was a restful and fun break. Zen Gooder has turned is sweet home near downtown Franklin into a peaceful place for hikers to choose a bunk or private room, share food and gear and socialize together. Chuck was happy to spend most of the day chilling out on the bed while I ran errands in town and went out to dinner with some new hiker friends. After we got back we sat out in the front porch and one of the hikers played guitar and we swapped stories about our adventures last week. It could not have been a better way to rest up for the next 5 day push to meet Bryan in Fontana Dam.
Zen drove us back to Rock Gap and we started with an easy climb in perfect weather. We had a pretty mild day of rolling terrain with a few steeper climbs but nothing too bad. The only real challenge I had was trying to keep Chuck calm for about an hour while we hiked near some gun fire. He pulls his leash off trail and tries to bury himself in the leaves but the only thing we can do is keep moving and hope we get to the other side of the mountain. When we came over Wayah Bald, he calmed down and we stopped and listened to some bird calls together and he felt better.
Wayah Bald has a beautiful historical fire tower made of stone and a magnificent 360 degree view of the valleys. I’ve notice something really sweet about Chuck on this hike – I think he enjoys the views as much as I do. As we are hiking along the trail he will pop over the overlooks and stick his long beautiful neck out and look at the horizon.
We are also settling into a great pattern to our day. He likes to power through the hike with a short food break with me and when we get to camp he has a big dinner and then makes his rounds to the shelter and the other tents to say hello to everyone. When he gets back to our tent in dives into his taco style bag and takes a long warm nap.
We stopped at 15 miles today at the Wayah Shelter and built a fire and had s’mores with the other hikers. It was a warm night and we chatted until it got dark and helped each other hang our bear bags. Nobody is really good at it yet but it’s fun trying together and pretty hysterical how bad we mess it up. I don’t think we have any real bear danger this early in the year but need to get in the good habit of hanging our food and toiletries.
The people I am meeting are just great. Funny, engaging and they all love being outside as much as we do. I’m learning a lot from them and they are generous with their tips and special food treats. The s’mores were hiked up from the Dollar General by The Weatherman. He brought enough for a crowd and walked around the camp and invited everyone to share. We are headed to Nantahala Outdoor Center tomorrow and looking forward to the long but mostly downhill hike to the river.