Friday, April 9, 2010

The Canadian Geese

Today was all about the Trail and helping out the thru-hikers.  We headed up the mountain to Newfound Gap early this morning.  We have been communicating with a couple from North Carolina through their trail journal since the beginning of their hike on March 15th.  We had offered to pick them up at Newfound Gap when they got there.  We learned a few days ago they would be there today.

We got an early start again, but at least we waited until after the sun was up.  Just after we passed the Visitor Center at Sugarlands near the park entrance we got a call from  Carol and Richard, aka “the Canadian Geese”.  They were on their way, but not as far along as previously expected.  Yesterday’s rain that we were hiking in was snow and sleet in the high elevations were the AT is located.  That had slowed all the hikers down.

We turned around and went into Gatlinburg to while away some of the extra time we had on our hands.  We slowly and thoroughly browsed around the newest outfitter in town--NOC, The Great Outpost.  They had a lot of nice stuff, but we managed to escape without spending any money.

We went up to Chimney’s Picnic area in the park for our lunch.  The entire picnic area seemed like it was in full bloom.  We saw several varieties of trillium, Dutchman’s breeches and many things we didn’t recognize.  There was also plenty of water in Walker Camp Prong.  We walked around the picnic area enjoying the beauty of spring.  Yesterday’s rain brought in a cold front, so we enjoyed our picnic in the warm truck instead of in the cool breeze blowing across the picnic table.

After lunch, we continued our drive up the mountain to Newfound Gap.  We were still several hours early to meet the Canadian Geese, but we were able to offer snacks to several other thru-hikers as they came out to the road.  They were all anxious to get to Gatlinburg for a shower and restaurant food, so they all managed to find rides into town.

About 4 PM the Canadian Geese came out of the woods looking pretty spent.  They had had a hard day yesterday, slept with 21 other souls in a shelter designed for 12, and endured below freezing temperatures which sapped what little energy they had left.  They were ready for a motel room, a shower, and a hot meal.

We loaded them in the truck, fed them juice, bananas, and chocolate chip cookies, and drove them down the mountain to their motel.  It was great to meet these fine people and we are very grateful to have been able to give them a lift.  Perhaps we’ll get to see them again when we are in Virginia.

We were late getting home so I threw leftovers in the microwave for dinner.  But, oh, what a great day.

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