Wine and Dine

Tray Mountain Wilderness

I slept like a baby even with an unexpected late night storm. I broke down my hammock site fast and posted up near others’ tents drinking mate. Turtle and Andrea took off early but I wanted to socialize. I walked to different sites asking people the same daily questions about their plan and estimated destination. Everyone is so different yet open and polite. I ended up talking with Doc and Ronan a while. Ronan turned out to be really giggly yet insightful. He seems light about life but serious about his long term goals. That being said, as soon as we were done talking he retreated to his tent for a zero in the woods (“no hiking” day) and a Game of Thrones episode.

Being a dry town doesn’t mean no beer, just no legal place to drink it.

I didn’t get on trail until 10, leaving a few miles between the Boston girls and myself. I started a chase that would take 10 miles to complete. At Gnocchi gap Andrea and I were debating running into town. We both were leaning towards continuing on when a gray car pulled over and offered us a ride to town. I looked at her, said yes and we rode off. Our driver relocated from Atlanta and loved the easy mountain living. Since it’s a dry town he dropped us at Ingles where they at least had beer. We decided to get some extra stuff and pack it in for our trail buds. I went right for the knock-off Oreos and a box of wine. Luckily my favorite flavor, sunset blush, was on sale. Andrea grabbed a 12 pack and, predictably, we both got candy. This wasn’t going to be the lightest present but a good one. We packed they libations in our packs and walked to Zaxbys. Ain’t no secret that trail folk are quite fond of fried chicken.

Chicken and more chicken

Andrea told herself she’d get something green if she went into town, so a fried chicken salad was right up her alley. I, on the other hand, got the option with the most variety of prepared fried chicken complemented by a fatty slice of Texas toast. With “The Hunger” setting in, neither of us could go wrong.

We concluded our feast and retired to drinking in public. Being a dry town doesn’t mean no beer, just no legal place to drink it. We decided that behind the Zaxby’s dumpster was as good of a place as any. We sat on a delightful grassy hill and talked about life while we enjoying our first beers in a few days. After an hour or so we decided to get back to the trail. It didn’t take us three minutes to get a ride (always helps to stands behind a pretty girl). Alice pulled over in her pick up and told us to hop in. We pushed around some supplies for her new chicken coop addition and shot back to the trail.

It was 5:15 before we got back in the woods. Andrea and I threw on our packs, now each 10 pounds heavier, and headed North. It reminded me of my ranger days backpacking with more than a 50 pound load like it was my job (it was my job).

Half a mile in we met a sad looking hiker. She twisted her ankle and was waiting till morning to head to town for a brace. We poured her up a cup of wine and gave her some cookies which perked her right up. Five miles and a few mountains later we arrived at a campsite in a rhododendron forest. We sprung our goodies on the dozen hikers there and were received with open arms. We danced around camp filling cups and hands. Sometimes you’ve got to keep the trail magic in house.

We danced around camp filling cups and hands. Sometimes you’ve got to keep the trail magic in house.

Wine with a view

The next day I packed the wine at the top of my pack to be able to easily supply any passerby. Turns out Germans like wine and beer too. So do smelly hikers and missionaries on top of Tray Mountain. When I wasn’t pouring vino I was hiking hard trying to find some dudes from two nights before. Around 4:30 and just before the road to the town of Hiawassee I finally caught them. I offered up the rest of my sharables, happy to get that Franzia off my back. Nothing like boozing up dirt bag hikers.

Tray Mountain

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