May 9th

Today I hiked from Laughing Heart Hostel to a campsite halfway up the mountain out of town, a distance of 4.2 miles. I got am incredibly late start, not leaving the town of Hot Springs until 2:30 in the afternoon. I started the day by walking into town to get cash to pay the hostel. They were advertised in the AT Guide as accepting credit cards, but they now advise that they do not. I then spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon finishing writing two posts for Appalachian Trials. The first was a summation of the Flat Stanley photos I’d taken for my cousin Sarah’s 3rd grade class. I’d been trying to upload it for a while now, but kept having issues with the WordPress app. The website support has been working on the issue (it was affecting several of the bloggers) so I tried again today and it went through. I also completed a trail update covering my time in the Smokies. This has been taking me a while because of some of the moodiness I’d experienced during that time. I struggled with putting into words some of my feelings, as well as being exposed talking about my depression. Now I’m nervous in the woods, with no Internet signal, knowing I won’t know the response to the post for at least a week.


I also had the chance to call both of my grandmothers this morning, which I enjoyed. I still keep feeling suprised by how much my home sickness has affected me. I don’t normally even talk to either of them much, but those two short conversations meant so much to me. It was a piece of home, a reminder of going to visit for Sunday lunch or holidays, spending afternoons playing outside at their houses and climbing trees. I know I still have months of this to go, but I’m hoping it goes quickly because I really can’t wait to be home again.


I had an interesting interaction in town. While waiting outside the outfitter for my last blog post to upload and a biker pulled up. I read through his patches and noticed one that said “Christian biker” and another that said “these are my church clothes.” This last one made me laugh out loud and I complimented him on it. We chatted for a few moments, he advised his name was Bill the Tishbite, taking the second part of the moniker from Elijah the Tishbite, considering himself a wandering wise man. Before leaving, I thanked him for his time and wished him God bless. He then handed me a card that said “From Jesus” and told me inside was a Walmart gift card. This left me with two different impressions. First, I was incredibly touched, not by the monetary gift, but by the sense of connection I felt with this fellow Christian. Feeling not alone, a moment of communion without the cracker and juice. Second, a little more worldly, I had to admit that this is becoming a theme, when I reach out to chat with strangers in town, it pays off. I’ve now gotten free rides, cash, and then this gift card. I’m not normally the type to chat up strangers, but maybe I need to be.
While hiking, I listened to episodes of a podcast called “What you missed in history class.” I haven’t listened to many podcasts before, but the Google Play Music app now has a feature for downloading and managing them so I subscribed to several of them. I was excited for this one, hoping for some interesting tidbits. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The episodes were each less than 5 minutes, and were mostly advertising articles on their website. They mention interesting stories, but don’t really complete the thoughts, telling you to go to their website to hear the rest of the story. I then switched to listening to the audio book of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I’ve read it before, but I really enjoy the story. I approaches the idea of a spiritual world that overlaps with our reality, lending mystery and depth. I find it restful and thoughtful.


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