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bmt thru hike/at lash/ft bastian chapter3- finding rasty

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  • i got to thunder rock campground in a light rain, hoping to find a phone so i could call rasty, as i didnt have any service on my cell, as is typical with att in the south.rasty was due to meet me in a couple of days, and we still hadnt planned a place to meet.
    when i got to the campground i asked the caretaker about a phone, she said they didnt have one. i went to set up my tent on the stupid gravel excuses for tentsites, common at public campgrounds. i couldnt get my stakes to go in, so i started to set up on the adjacent grass. the caretaker drove up in her little golf cart and informed me if a ranger caught me tenting on the grass, i would get a $75 fine.i explained i couldnt get my stakes into the gravel. she then asked if i had a mallet. i laughed and said, no ,i don't carry a mallet, as i usually dont set up my tent on gravel.besides, i said."it's just grass".she said regardless, i would still be fined. she then offered to bring some heavy duty stakes and a mallet for me to borrow, and a few minutes later i pounded my tent into place.
    i saw in sgt rock's guide book that the ochoee olympic kayaking center was 1.6 miles away on a side trail, that they had a payphone, as well as meals.
    i got up early,packed up and headed up the side trail, leaving the stakes on the picnic table for the caretaker to retrieve.
    i got to the center around 8:30am to find it opened at 9pm. i went around back and bought a bottle of coke from a vending machine and drank breakfast while i waited. at 9am,a man arrived, and went inside, opened the front door a little while later. i asked about the payphone, and he told me they no longer had one, due to cell phone use, it no longer paid to have a payphone. he offered me the use of the house phone, and i called rasty, only to get a recording. left a message, i would contact him when i hit reliance to arrange when and where to hook up.i thanked the man, who also told me they dont start serving meals until 11am, so i left, taking the 1.6 mile trail back to rejoin the bmt.
    the stretch of the bmt between thunder rock campground and reliance was awesome.i passed another campground in the afternoon, and started thinking about where to camp for the night. the guidebook showed 2 sites a bit further down, and i continued down the trail through a beautiful limestone canyon with rushing cascades splitting the middle. it had been raining all day, so i was travelling fairly quickly. i got to the first campsite, along the stream, which was very pretty, but it was only 4pm and too early for me to stop. the 2nd site was only another 1.5 away, so i headed for that one. when i got there, i found a firepit and no good spots to tent. i saw in the guidebook it was 5.3 to hiawassee outfitters in reliance, where i could find a phone, a bunkhouse and some hot food.it was only 5pm, i figured i could do the miles before nightfall, and in a cold rain, the idea of warm shelter and food was appealing enough for me to continue.
    i continued down the trail through the beautiful gorge and finally arrived at hiawassee outfitters a little after 7pm.including the 3.2 miles blue blaze back and forth in the am,it was my first 20+ mile dayand my feet were sore from hiking in the rain all day. i walked through the campground and got to the main office/giftshop/restaurant, only to find it closed, with no indication when they would return.cold,wet and hungry, i searched for a good place to pitch my tent, noticed the bunkhouse nearby, went up to the front screen door, only to find it unlocked. so i decided to stay in the bunkhouse for the night, drying out my gear, and cooking up some dinner.
    the next morning, i had one thought on my mind-i had to get a hold of rasty.so i packed up , walked under the trestle down the road and came to webb bros. fly and tackle. i went inside, bought a soda, and asked if i could use their phone. the girl behind the counter handed me the phone and i called rasty, only to get his voicemail yet again.i left a message, saying if he didnt recognize the number it was me, that i was planning on staying in reliance for the night.i believe the only reason reliance exists is for the flyfishing on the hiawassee, with about a half dozen anglers already working the river
    i thanked the girl. she told me about reliance fly and tackle, a short walk away, where i could resupply and stay for the night.
    i went outside and drank my mountain dew, and decided i would stay at reliance fly &tackle and let rasty come to me.i went back inside and asked thee girl if i could again use her phone. i called rasty and this time he picked up. told him my plan, that he could find safe parking at the jmt trailhead in reliance, and i would zero that day and wait for him there tomorrow.
    i walked to reliance fly & tackle. i went inside and ordered a ham sandwich, the owner told me he'd made brisket that morning, would i prefer fresh bbq instead? boy, would i. it was delicious. i rented their cabin for the night for $100. pricey maybe, but nice inside, with a twin bed, and a bunkbed, cable tv,full kitchen and bath.you can also tent on their property that night i relaxed on the front porch with pepe, watching an amazing lightshow as hundreds of fireflies lit up the forest.
    rasty arrived the next morning. we grabbed a bite of breakfast in the store ,where we met baggie pants, a kid from california, and one of the few other hikers thru hiking the bmt this year.he kept a bmt trail journal under the name whiskers, and its a pretty good read. he had started earlier than i had, but was waiting in reliance on a few fellow thru hikers he was meeting up with. we traded a few stories about the bmt so far, and then it was time to leave. i would meet baggie pants a few more times this spring. one of the good guys.
    we finished our breakfast, i threw a can of mountain dew deep in my pack to enjoy later that day,and we drove to the trailhead where the john muir trail section of the bmt begins.
    its all good

    1,110 times read

Comments 1

  • Rasty -

    In my defense it was Easter weekend and I don't carry my phone when working in the dining room.