March 9, 1998

3/9/98 Helen, GA

2.2 miles (50.7 total)

Again today, the rain always seems to let up when the sun tries to make an appearance. The group consensus is to go into Helen GA, because of a winter storm predicted for tonight. Nut used his cell-phone to call several motels to see if they could take a bunch of wet and cold hikers. Prince of Darkness, Monkey Boy and Duke are heading into town so Duke can decide what to do. He’s not having fun, his knee is in bad shape, and money’s short.

Biz, Duke, Monkey Boy, Prince of Darkness, & John
pack up at the Blue Mountain Shelter

As we headed out from the shelter, I had planned on skipping town and keep to the trail. But I was having a lot of fun hiking with Prince of Darkness and Monkey Boy. If it wasn’t for Duke’s problems, they had not planned on stopping in many towns along the way to keep expenses down. Because I figure they will be moving ahead of me when I stop in Hiawassee, I’d might go into town so I could to hike with them a couple more days. Plus I really hadn’t had a short mileage day. Helen GA, is supposed to be an alpine-theme tourist village.

The hike down to Unicoi Gap was about two miles. We thought we should split up into groups of two to make hitch-hiking the 10 miles into town easier. But, to our surprise, an empty dump truck stopped immediately to take the whole group into town. What a way to travel!

Monkey Boy, John & Nut get shelter from the wind
in our dump truck ride

The dump truck pulled right into the driveway of the Helendorf River Inn. The whole gang split up into two rooms. We had every square-inch of ours covered with wet gear, including clothes, boots, sleeping bags, and even our tents. After doing laundry, I stopped in the lobby to write in my journal and drink as much hot cider as I could, up next to the fireplace.

Later we all went to eat at Paul’s Restaurant. The menu was a lot more expensive than the restaurant looked. Some decided to have a beer, and then look for something cheaper. As a vegetarian, I didn’t find much on the menu because steak and seafood were their specialty. We asked at the Inn where the local hang out was, and one guy told us the Southside Bar and Grill. It was a long walk near the edge of town, but it was worth it. It was a working man’s place, with big portions and cheap prices. Monkey Boy later saw the guy that had recommended the place over at the bar, and the guy also offered to give us a lift back to the trail in the morning.