Although we had been in town just a couple days ago, we heard that Franklin is a great place for hikers and we needed to resupply for a long stretch to and through the Smokies. We hustled to cover a few miles of trail in the morning to catch a shuttle to town from a road crossing. On the way, Anne was a victim of the Carolina Hat Snatcher, a vicious hanging vine:
The shuttle van was driven by Ron Haven. Ron is a well known supporter of the AT, motel owner, county commissioner, one time Mexican pro-wrestler, truck driver, banjo teacher and real southern character. He told us that he was “born so far back in these hills that Saturday Night Live didn’t come on till Sunday morning.” His stories and mannerisms kept us well entertained. This might not translate into writing well, but when driving past an auto tire store he said “some of these hillbillies round here don’t call em tarrs, they call em Taarhs!” Anyhow, he really goes the extra mile to help the hikers, running a shuttle up to the mountains twice a day (even if you don’t stay at his motel) and around town just to keep us off our feet.
We awoke at his Budget Inn to steady rain and looking at the forecast, decided to take a full day in Franklin to avoid the cold and wet and to rest after eight days of hiking. Willett seemed especially appreciative of the break:
We mostly spent the time eating and doing crosswords. We hit the Motor Company Diner first and had chili burgers and sweet tea.
Our only BBQ in the south so far was sadly from a microwave container in our motel. It was still delicious.
We were really eager to get back to the trail. The early shuttle brought us back the next morning and we set off to cover fifteen miles. We passed some great vistas and some areas of unique flora near the peaks.
This area must have had a lot of snow this year. It looked very matted and washed out. Anne thought it was like walking the beach at low tide:
We summited Wayah Bald and made our way a mile further to a shelter which we now have completely to ourselves.
The night is clear and the moon is casting shadows which Willett finds unnerving. He is growling terribly as we try to sleep.