We woke up rather early to the others getting out of the shelter and to something else. Something we hadn't seen in a long while, something strange. The sun!
It was Mountain Bee's birthday so we wished him well. We would probably not see him for a while given the fact that he does twenties pretty much every day and we don't keep up that pace. We got pacjed up said our goodbyes got ourselves going. Even though the sun was out, we heard there would be rain at two so we wanted to at least make it to Bland, the nearest town, by then. It was only thirteen or so miles away so it seemed possible.
We were taking a snack break when Bambi and Tyler both received bad news. Bambi was informed that her friend's father had passed away and Tyler found out that his brother's long time girlfriend had broken up with him. We all got the morale sucked out of us. All hike long we were toying with whether we should brave the weather and keep hiking passed Bland or stay in Bland to avoid the impending rain.
*A tree with an eye
When we were about a mile from town, we heard a hiker coming up behind us quick. At this point, a hiker coming to pass is almost always a thru hiker so we pulled over on the side of the trail let then pass. It was Turbo, a thru hiker we hadn't seen since our rest in Erwin. He had taken several days in Damascus. When we made it down to the town road we made plans to share a room in one of the local motels together. Rai, hard news and the lack of sun had done us in. We were pretty psyched that we got to hang with Turbo though. He's a super nice guy who works at Project USE in New Jersey taking out inner city kids through adults to the woods. USE stands for urban suburban exploration and it's all nonprofit. Turbo (named not cuz he's super fast but cuz he's super kind to critters like turbo the snail) seems like he would be an incredible trail leader. From the road crossing, we hitched into Bland with a wonderful guy named Ken who worked in the area. We got to the Motel and got a room for the four of us (dudes in one bed and ladies sharing the other bed).
Somehow, strangely, we ended up stealing Mountain Bee's room as we had called to reserve a room for four hikers. The four of us showed up and the woman asked if we were the ones had called. We had called earlier so we said yes. Mountain Bee's group had gone to do resupply first and our group went straight to the motel. Anyway there was a hotel in a very nearby town with a lot more supplies and conveniences. Our hotel didn't have laundry but his did. So, somehow, it ended up working better for the birthday boy. We did feel bad though but also we are glad we could help.
We got to fashioning laundry lines running the entire length of the room. Emily gathered everyone's muddy socks to do a pre soak in the sink before leaving for dinner. Then we hit the only nearby food (and much anticipated food) DQ. It was slightly weird as Tyler had to order his blizzard three times, but when it arrived it was full of the usual horrible and over indulgent calories and thereby perfect. When we got back, the real task began of doing laundry in a motel that had no laundry and in a town that had no laundry. Emily worked on everyone's socks in the sink. It was unconsiousably epic. Especially because it had recently started pouring outside. We won? Tyler, Bambi, and Turbo did the other laundry in the bathtub. The resulting drying rack was incredible. Turbo and Emily strung up a network of shoe laces, paracords, and other string materials that would have made tough mudder jealous. The resulting amalgamation did need heat so we pumped up the radiator and left the door open. Long, weird, dirty story short, the motel would have certainly saved money with a laundry machine.
Later that night Emily received the terrible news that her friend's father had passed away. It was a bad day for us but it was an even harder day for the people we love.