Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hike #4 - Deep Gap to Wayah Gap

Friday, April 13, 2012 - I know I have mentioned this before, but the "preparation" part of these hikes is typically the most important part of the entire hike.  Initially I was going to be joined on this hike by my younger brother, David, and also a couple of "college buddies" (Kurt and Pat).  I was looking forward to the company while out of the trail, but it was not meant to be.  They all bailed on me for various reasons in the week leading up to this hike.  No worries though, this hasn't been the first solo hike and it surely will not be the last.  After all... I have the voices in my head to keep me company.

Since I was going solo, I needed to arrange for a reliable shuttle driver (preferably one that doesn't play the banjo) to pick me up from my car at Wayah Gap and drive me to my starting point of Deep Gap.  Where do you find one of these shuttle drivers at such short notice?  Well, I had met a fellow insurance agent named Kevin Corbin at one of my agent meetings earlier in the year and remembered that he was from Franklin, NC which was a town very near my hike.  I made a quick call to Kevin and explained my situation.  As it turned out, Kevin is a county commissioner and one of his fellow county commissioners is a guy named Ron Haven.  Ron just happens to own the Budget Inn of Franklin (famous place for hikers to stay) as well as the glorious Budget Inn of Hiawassee that I stayed at in my previous hike.  Ron quickly set me up with a shuttle driver named Kathy.  I contacted Kathy and all was set for my next hike.

Friday April 13, 2012 - I know... I know.... planning a hike in the remote wilderness for Friday the 13th is not most folk's idea of a good time, but I was itching to get back on the trail after my winter hiatus and that just happened to be the best time for me to go.  So, I made my preparations, checked the local radio stations for any mention of escaped mental patients and headed out.

I planned to meet my shuttle driver, Kathy, at Wayah Gap around 11:00 a.m. which would give us plenty of time to drive to Deep Gap and let me hit the trail by Noon.  After a quick pit stop at the Franklin Walmart I drove up to Wayah Gap where Kathy was waiting for me.  When first speaking with Kathy on the phone, her raspy "Phillip Morris" voice made her sound just like one of the Mount Pilot "Fun Girls" from the Andy Griffith Show.  I was kind of expecting her to great me with a "Hey Barney!" when I arrived, but that wasn't the case.  She was in her upper fifties, smoked heavily and drove a Ford Taurus.  Although she was very nice, she was definitely no Skippy or Daphne.  She also brought along another person for the ride (her daughter) who quietly sat in the seat behind me.  It kind of freaked me out in that her daughter sat right behind me and didn't utter a single word the entire trip.  This made me a little nervous and had me second guessing this whole Friday the 13th thing.  Anyway, I just tried to make small talk for the entire drive and also kept my thumbs strategically located near my throat just in case the "quiet girl" in the back turned out to be the cousin of Jason.