Monday, April 4 - Saturday, April 9, 2022
Budget Inn and Holiday Inn, Hiawassee, Georgia (Zero Mile Days)
NOTE: ᎠᏳhᏩᏏ [Ayuhwasi/Hiawassee] means "great meadow" in ᏣᎳᎩ. We are currently hiking through the homelands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ (Tsalaguwetiyi/Cherokee) people. While some remained, most of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ were forcibly removed from these lands by white settlers, beginning with the Spanish in 1539 and culminating in 1850 with the United States' program of ethnic cleansing called the Trail of Tears. ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ people continue to live here and are actively working on reclaiming sacred sites and stolen land. You can learn more about the ᏣᎳᎩᏱ ᏕᏣᏓᏂᎸᎩ / Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians by visiting: https://ebci.com/.
Day 11 - Monday, April 4
Hiawassee is a certified Appalachian Trail Community, a designation given by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to nearby towns that support the trail and hiking community. Our second resupply stop, we sent a box ahead to the Budget Inn. We have other things to get in town, but that shouldn't be too hard since this community seems hiker friendly.
We've needed a Zero Day like today. We did almost absolutely nothing all morning and early afternoon. We took showers, stretched, and did manage to get some resupply done. Tonight will be our second night at the Budget Inn. It's in better shape than what Trek recalls from 2016, and it's perfect for thru-hikers, even if it has seen better years.
Being at the Budget Inn all day was getting monotonous, so we walked around town and then went out for dinner with Driftwood. Daniel's Steak House has a buffet, which Trek remembered as having a fantastic salad bar and good options for someone gluten-free. Not anymore, it's under new management now, and we were sad. We do not recommend it.
We're sitting here watching the weather in our room; Driftwood is with us. Local TV News gives us a weather report to make your socks roll up and down. We're supposed to be getting a solid cell of storms tomorrow night and a second set of strong storm cells on Wednesday. They're showing reports of funnel clouds and tornados and the potential for that to be the case here. All three of us agree we should try and stay another day. With the Budget Inn office closed, we have to wait to ask until morning.
Day 12 - Tuesday, April 5
Rain. Blisters reached out to the Budget Inn office to find that they are booked up and we'll have to move on. We called the Holiday Inn and they have a couple of rooms left, so we take one for a couple of days - hoping for the severe weather to pass us by and allow us to hike out without any issues. After packing up our bags, we walked across town in the mist. Trek managed to get to the Towns County Public Library to do some blogging and other errands. Updated report says tomorrow may be somewhat sunny, but it is also the day with the highest risk of severe thunderstorms along with a tornado watch. An updated weather report says we have the potential for subfreezing temperatures and snow this Friday into Saturday. Sigh.
Day 13 - Wednesday, April 6
Most of the day ends up being gorgeous and we regret not hiking until mid afternoon when the skies turn dark as night and open up. Deluge, we believe it is called.
Wherever you are is home
And the earth is paradise
Wherever you set your feet is holy land . . .
You don't live off it like a parasite.
You live in it, and it in you,
Or you don't survive.
And that is the only worship of God there is.
WILFRED PELLETIER AND TED POOLE
Despite the rain, or maybe in spite of it, we join our friends who are all now in town and head over to the Hiawassee Brewery to grab dinner. It clears up for a bit, so we eat outside. On our way back to our hotel, the skies open back up and the night becomes rough as the thunder rolls and the lightning strikes.
Day 14 - Thursday, April 7
We're still here. Sigh. It's a nice day, a calm between storms. Blisters is fascinated by the extremely uncomfortable shoving of religion, that is, Fundamentalist Christianity, down our throats that has occurred from the moment we stepped foot in this city. It's everywhere and it makes Trek's Jewish/UU heart sink. It's truly frightening as it reminds us of just how close our country is to becoming a theocratic nightmare state. Keeping up with the Joneses is given new meaning here, as neighbors and businesses compete over who has the biggest cross in their yard / on their wall / in the window / around their necks. Bless their hearts.
Day 15 - Friday, April 8
It's going to snow tonight. It's going to be cold tonight. Now they are saying tomorrow is going to be 35F and the Holiday Inn is now inundated with hikers all coming off trail to stay dry and warm. We've heard from some hikers that folks had to combine sleeping bags last night and keep themselves warm by cuddle-puddle in the shelters. No, thank you, but glad that worked for y'all.
Day 16 - Saturday, April 9
Will we ever leave this town? Yes. Tomorrow! We're getting ourselves out to the trail thanks to Gracie, a trail angel and shuttle driver who is picking us up at 7AM. We are so looking forward to getting back on trail. Blisters' blisters have healed, the thunderstorms and tornado watch have ended, and it's not going to be subfreezing. We cannot wait to beat these Hiawassee Blues.