Journal 135-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Sunday–July 4, 2021
Trail Day–135
Trail Mile–-6.1/1,523.5
Location–Pine Grove Furnace, Appalachian Trail Museum, then to Ironmasters Mansion Hostel, AT Mile 1,104.8

We ended up with adjoining rooms at Best Western last night. So, we were able to spend more time together after having supper at CJs, a local pub. My room had a tub, lots of hot water to soak my banged up bones in. Thank you Lucky; another great night’s stay!

Nimrod and I beat it down to the lobby first thing this morning for coffee and box breakfasts, while Lucky takes off to pick up Celine Francois, of Celine’s Films. She will be hiking with me, filming the next five days–for a documentary about the Pinhoti Trail, Flagg Mountain, and yours truly.

The hike today will be the shortest in weeks, only six miles into Pine Grove Furnace and the AT Museum. So, no rush in getting on trail this morning. A little after eight we’re back to the gravel road crossing, yesterday’s end point.

Lucky and Celine are both hiking with me, another great day to be on trail! Celine and I head out together with Lucky soon catching and passing us. He’s made a bet with Nimrod that he could average better than three miles per hour, completing his hike in less than two hours.

We’ve an easy go of it, basically downhill to the little community of Pine Grove Furnace. Celine keeps her camera rolling as I trudge along.

Late morning we’re in. Lucky has been here over an hour (he won his bet with Nimrod). The General Store, Pine Grove Furnace–this is the place made famous for the “half-gallon challenge.” Any thru-hiker worth his salt (and wishing to celebrate reaching the AT half way point) has got to put down a half-gallon of ice cream, one sitting, as fast as he or she can. Ahh, and they’ve got the best, Hershey ice cream! The freezer is full. I take a look but immediately know better. I learned my lesson back in 1998. The only flavor left in the freezer then was peanut butter. I got a half-gallon of it down, but it took me a half hour–and my digestive system’s never been the same since. Lucky comes in and buys a half-gallon of vanilla. Then Nimrod carves it into four equal chunks and we (Celine, Lucky, Nimrod & Nimblewill) manage that amount just fine (1/4th of a half-gallon).

The Appalachian Trail Museum & Library are housed in a 200-year-old grist mill right next to the General Store. It’s all new since I came through here 23 years ago. So, I’m anxious to see both. Two of my dear friends are primarily responsible for these great AT assets, Larry Luxenberg for the museum, Linda Patton for the library. Unfortunately, I’ve very little time to look around as the museum has me scheduled to make a presentation at two–and it’s almost two.

Folks gather on the stepped-down terrace outside, 50 or more kind souls. I’ve not prepared anything, but we’ve a fun time. All listen intently as I recite a few of my thought-provoking poems, then answer questions. Lorax, a fellow ’98 AT thru-hiker, who I haven’t seen since then, attended my presentation today. A joy seeing him once more!

Evening, the four of us check into the old Ironmasters Mansion Hostel, which is right on the other side of the General Store.

What an amazing, action packed day–way plenty for this old fellow…


 It’s not how old you are.
It’s how you are old.
(Jules Renard)

2 Comments on “Journal 135-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

  1. Brandt (my 4-year-old and I just did that section! Spent last Thursday night at Ironmaster’s Mansion! Would’ve been awesome to see you again! Continued best wishes as you hike on! Conductor Red, Lodge of Legends


  2. Hightlight of my shortened 600 mile hike this year was meeting you ,Nimrod and Lucky in Suches.Wish you all the best.Billy from Rochester,NY.


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