Time spent in a town is valuable time that must be used wisely.
There are usually a lot of tasks that must be accomplished in that limited time, so getting into town as early as possible helps a lot.
|Date||Wednesday, April 12, 2017|
|Weather||Increasing cloudiness with a brief afternoon shower|
From Rock Gap Shelter, it was only 3.8 miles to reach Winding Stair Gap, a spot that most hikers use to exit the trail and go into Franklin, N.C.
The trail made an easy climb up a ridge, again through a burn area.
From the top of the ridge I could see U.S. Highway 64, which is where I was headed. It was still a couple miles away.
On the ridge I met once again Ian and Foxy. I hadn't seen them in a couple days. They were apparently hiking behind me, then went past Rock Gap Shelter late yesterday before stopping for the night.
In a short time I reached Winding Stair Gap and the highway. I didn't know yet how I was going to get to Franklin, but I soon discovered that was no problem at all.
What I first noticed in the large parking area at the gap were some U.S. Forest Service vehicles. They were apparently used yesterday to put out the fire that burned on the other side of the gap.
Though the AT was closed for a time during the fire, by now it was reopened.
About the same time I arrived at the gap, a trail angel drove up to drop off a hiker. Tim, pictured here in the center with Uncle Puck (left) and Bluestem (right), had done a thru-hike a couple years ago. He said he was now driving around looking for a place he wanted to relocate to. He had been staying recently in Franklin.
Tim agreed to drive Uncle Puck, Joe, Bluestem, Wahoo and me to Franklin. He dropped most of us off at the Budget Inn.
Bluestem went to a different motel, where he was planning to meet his wife.
The Budget Inn is the kind of place only hikers on a budget can appreciate. To call the place a dump would be an insult to most landfills. This place was apparently dreadful, with cold showers, dirty sheets, and black mold.
I got lucky. There was a single room available in a different building, just across the street. Though it was operated by the same owner, my room had hot water, clean sheets, and no mold. It lacked a number of normal motel amenities and refinements, but I found the place at least habitable. It cost $40 for the night.
My room wasn't ready yet, but there was a room in the building with two washers and two dryers. I was able to discreetly hide behind a door to slip out of my hiking clothes and put on my town clothes, a pair of running shorts and a t-shirt. I then put my hiking clothes in a washing machine and ate some lunch.
There was also a small outfitter store in this building, so after I put my clothes in the dryer I walked over to the store. They had a knee brace for sale that I had heard from other hikers was a good one to use, so I bought it.
Once my clothes were dry my room was ready, so I was able to take a shower and then relax a couple hours.
During this time I worked on a blog post and figured out what my meal needs were until I reached my next resupply opportunity.
Ron Haven is the owner of the Budget Inn. He may run a low quality operation, but he understand what many hikers need. At 4:30 he offered a free shuttle to Walmart, which was a few miles away on the edge of town.
The stop at Walmart allowed us to get all of our food for the next leg of the hike. After an hour, Ron returned with his bus to take us back into town.
With all of my needs of the next few days taken care of, it was time to satisfy a more immediate need: food and drink. I walked to Lazy Hiker Brewing Company, which was just a few blocks away.
On the way I saw Leanne, who was sitting outside another outfitter store, so I thanked her again for the use of her knee brace and told her I bought one.
For my money, nothing goes better together than a brewery tasting room and a food truck. Happily, the truck at Lazy Hiker was outstanding.
While I was waiting for my food order, Goose came to place his order. He's an 18-year-old from Montreal, Quebec, who is thru-hiking. He told me later he was not pleased that the drinking age in the U.S. is 21 and not 18, as it is in his home country.
I was disappointed to learn that the brats on the food truck's menu were not available. The truck's owner told me he makes the brats by hand, but he had already sold out.
Nonetheless, the burger I ordered, which was topped by onion rings and the owner's own special sauce, was a fantastic way to finish my nero day in Franklin.
Me and my uncle went ridin' down
To South Colorado, west Texas bound
We stopped over in Santa Fe,
That day on the pony, just about half way
And you know it was the hottest part of the day
I took the horses up to the stall
Went to the barroom, ordered drinks for all
Three days in the saddle, You know my body hurt
It being summer, I took off my shirt
And I tried to wash off some of that dusty dirt