Date- February 19, 2020
Distance Traveled Today- 6.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 58.4 miles
Weather/Temp- Rainy, foggy, 40s, 50s
Pain level- Zero
Wildlife encounters- None
Days without shower- 6
Days without laundry- 6
It rained all night again, and into the morning. I didn’t get a break to pack up until almost 9 am. It was much cooler today than yesterday, and the ground was even more saturated.
The rain actually abated a bit and was forecasted to stay away until evening. Unfortunately, all night and into tomorrow it was slated to pour. In a little less than 7 miles we would come to a road called “Porter’s Gap.” From there we would have the option to go into Talladega (yes, the NASCAR Talladega). If I skip that option, then we’d have another 27 miles to reach Cheaha State Park through tougher terrain than we’d already experienced.
The Voice of Reason
Carrying Katana so frequently over this terrain and through these conditions is wiping me out. I knew I couldn’t make the State Park today. Furthermore, it would be utterly miserable trying to make it there tomorrow over steep, muddy, and flooded trail in the rain. Although my natural sense of urgency was telling me to make a run for it… the rational side of me was saying, “Relax, take your time and do this smart. This isn’t a race, and it isn’t the normal thru-hike.”
After a nonstop slog through dripping wet forest, we reached Porter’s Gap a little after 11 am. I sat down next to the highway in the trailhead parking lot and examined my options again: I could press on through more of the same and expect much worse tomorrow… or alternately – I could find a way into Talladega and sit out the rest of today and tomorrow. Subsequently, I could hit it hard when the next 3 days were slated to be rain free.
Refuge from the Storm
In the end, I chose to sit it out. I promptly called a hostel (appropriately named “Next Step Hostel”) which was run by an older couple – Jeff and Nancy. They had section-hiked the entire AT over the course of 20 years. Nancy came out and whisked us away to Talladega.
It’s a free hostel operating through donations only. Situated in the middle of town, it resides in a historic building which used to be an attorney’s office. The property is on three acres and consists of four buildings: the owner’s house, the hostel, an old shop, and a storage building. It’s a pretty sweet operation they got going here… and I’m looking forward to sitting out the nasty weather.