I am in Erwin Tennessee. Jeremiah Johnson and I have pushed hard, big mile days for nearly two weeks to get here Friday to meet his friend. My left knee is bothering me a bit, but I am taking a day off from hiking today to rest and hang out. I went absolutely huge last night and slept in a king size bed at Holiday Inn Express (thanks grandpa!) and JJ's friend Rex even drove us to Johnson City for dinner! A broccoli Cheese, butter, sour cream baked potato and bbq baked beans went down well as the waitresses cruised around in Firehouse- ish suspenders. The miles and smiles are coming quicker and easier than I could have hoped. All seems well with the dream of a Daleville return before May 15.
After leaving Holiday Inn Express JJ and Rex dropped me back at Uncle Johnny's Hostel. Joe Kick Ass and his girlfriend are graciously grillin up burgers, and hot dogs along with other snacks (candy bars, cookies, chips, cole slaw, beer etc) as some amazing trail magic. The crew I was hiking around in the Smokies have caught back up; Truckin, Wendy, St. Patty's etc, and an afternoon of food and fiends in the sunshine makes me feel like perhaps, finally, the AT is as it should be.
My cornrows are still holiding up. It's strange to be in town showering, but not washing my hair. Dancruff is definately setting in, but having them tight, reasonaly snag free, and hair out of my face seems worthwhile to keep them in longer. As long as bugs don't stat crawling around.... I should be set to keep my hair up till.... dare I saw Daleville?
I beleive the count down is 260 more miles from Erwin-Damascus + Bland- Daleville. I can scarce believe I'm so close to finishing this journey, but as always, am embracing and accepting the principle of not counting my chickens before they hatch.
Low and his girlfriend Erin sent me an incredible Easter- themeed goodie box to Standing Bear Hostel. In his card he said "when it don't come easy, pray for strength, and when it does- ask for humility". I keep thinking of that, journeys coming full circle, and the most exciting part being just around the river bend.
I used to think Erwin would be bittersweet and sad for me, it being one of my first trail towns visited during Hasty's 2007 hike. As it turns out, that is a pale memory to the vivid dream I'm currently living.
Life is lovely, companionship is fufilling and delightful, the music is jamming, and the weather is brilliant. Happy and grateful, I couldn't ask for more =)