Saturday, May 29, 2017 (Day 26)
I made it to Erwin in a hurry. I covered the 13 miles in to town by around 2 pm. I could see the town from the mountain for the last couple of miles, the Nolichucky River bending its away through.
Every time the trail began to descend I thought I was heading down for good, but then it would climb again. This continued for what seemed like quite a while, until the trail eventually deposited me on a paved road on the outskirts of town. The trail continued by crossing a bridge over the Nolichucky.
Just to the right of the trail, before the crossing, is Uncle Johnny’s
I decided to stop in for a moment. They had a shuttle to Wal-Mart in two hours. I browsed the gear shop, plugged in my phone, and fumbled through the hiker boxes.
Snacking on the Ritz Crackers I found, I waited for the shuttle.
The van was packed full of hikers. Alone and in groups, we all weaved up and down the aisles, glancing in eachothers baskets in curiosity and comparison. Resupplying can be an overwhelming process, especially in establishments as large as Wal-Mart. I tried to keep it simple and as thrifty as possible: dehydrated potatos, instant rice, rolled oats, peanut-butter powder, chia seeds — my staples. I also purchased some fresh fruit and tortillas. Once finished, I sat on the pavement in front of the store by an outlet. Later I joined the group that had collected by a picnic table to my right. The shuttle was due to retrieve us in just over half an hour. I sat on the ground, back against the store. “Thirsty?” A hiker sitting opposite me handed me a Stella. “Cheers”, I replied with a smile.
On the return trip I squeezed in the very back with 5 other hikers — all the proper seats were occupied. Crammed and awkward vehicle transportation is part of the charm of long-distance hiker culture. Upon returning to the hostel I was offered more beverages and decided to stay on a cot in the dorm at a discounted price, taking advantage of a hot shower and good company.