Saturday, March 16, 2013


Up until this point in my life I have never had cause to be quite so aware that there are muscles in my butt.

My butt has spent 26 blissful years, resting on top of my legs, just waiting to be sat upon. There it floats, with only one job: collect donuts. And how! It has spent years developing a smug sort of pride at how well it collects yummy, fatty food. It's very full of itself, my butt. Somewhere underneath that good sittin' cushion is a network of hibernating muscles. Muscles that haven't had to blink an eye or wiggle around in nearly 3 decades.

Over the past week my butt has suddenly, rudely, received a backhanded slap in its stuporous face. It's like a drill sergeant kicked down the door to my butt muscles' retirement home, marched up to where my muscles were lounging languorously on a threadbare, sagging old sofa, and punched the beer directly out of their hands, sending alcohol flying across the room and exploding on the far wall of my upper iliac crest.

"GLUTES! GET OFF YOUR SORRY KEISTERS AND GET THIS GIRL UP THIS HILL!!" The sergeant screams, and the glutes obey. At least, they're trying to. It's hard to teach an old butt new tricks, such as climbing mountains and solving advanced trigonometry equations.

After we stiffly packed up our soaking wet clothing and tents with our frozen fingers on Wednesday morning (Day 6), we finished hiking up the mountain we had tried to summit the day before, before we were waylaid by the rain. Somewhere, inside my bum, my muscles sobbed quietly. They then received a good Irish slapping-around from the drill sergeant. Up the mountain we went.

We found out that we had camped about 25 feet below the freeze line, as all the vegetation up the trail was coated in frozen rain and frost. It stayed quite cold for the morning, but it began to warm up slightly towards the early afternoon. At that point, the ice clinging to the trees began to loosen and rain down in thousands of tiny shards every time the wind blew. It was like being in the Wizard of Oz, where the flying monkeys throw ice. It was magical, though mostly startling, especially when a piece would hit directly on my neck or cheek.

We hiked 13 miled to Dick's Creek Gap, where there is a road about 11 miles out from a town called Hiawassee. At this point there were 6 of us (me, Dumptruck, Apollo, Granite, Trekker and Pilgrim). Granite stuck out his thumb, and a truck immediately pulled over. A kind, self-proclaimed "dead head" jumped out, and said he had room for three. We let Trekker and Pilgrim take the ride. Dumptruck went as well, so that he could check into the hotel for us four young'ins.

That left Apollo, Granite and I. We weren't having very good luck, when finally a clean, white SUV pulled over. The woman behind the wheel rolled down her window.

"Oh lord, my husband is going to kill me. Y'all promise you are good folk?"

"Yes ma'am," I responded, trying to project as much clean-nosed honesty as I could through all my layers of sweat, grime and purple hair. "I'm a family therapist."

"Well, I'm a pastor. I've never picked up a hitchhiker in my life, but God said I should give you poor souls a ride."

She made room for us, and the two boys climbed in the backseat and I sat up front. I tried to keep my arms clamped down as hard as possible to keep my pig pen smell from wafting over to this kind woman and causing her to regret her decision. She was very sweet, though nervous about having hitchhikers. I turned on my charm as full-blast as possible, and she at least appeared calmed. She brought us to our hotel, anyway, and didn't pull over at any point to throw us out roadside.

Granite, Apollo, Dumptruck and I checked into the Holiday Inn Express, where our backpacks barfed up a colorful mess of damp gear all over the walls, bathroom, etc. While we were letting everything air out, we walked a half mile down the road to "Big Al's Pizza Buffet." Otherwise known as an oasis in the desert. It was all you could eat pizza and salad, for seven dollars, and my sweet tea was constantly refilled. At some point I raised my hands above my head to stretch. As if on cue, Apollo and Dumptruck pretended to pass out, and Granite cried out,

"Awww! My salad is wilting!"


"At the end of this trail, maybe I'll finally have a butt," said Dumptruck, his mouth full of pizza.

"Dude," said Granite, "by the end of this you'll be nothing but ass."

At that moment a blonde three-year-old boy carrying a cup of sweet tea the size of his torso walked by. He slowed down and looked over his shoulder at Granite with an appraising sort of look.

We all stayed silent until the toddler made it by our booth, then snorted silent giggles into our pizza.

Granite had heard that if you soak your feet in Epsom salt and hot water, it can harden up your blisters to turn them more quickly into callouses. At 10pm the four of us were jammed together on the edge of the bathtub, our feet all soaking while we drank a beer and marveled at how far we'd fallen from regular civilized life. And how sweet it was.

Clever Girl


  1. Hooray for bubbles! We just saw the new Wizard of Oz... Blow some big bubbles and float your way up the trail! :-) Thank you for your marvelous blog posts and pictures, you guys. Good to see a pic of Dumptruck! Your posts are great. So very funny... we "hear" your voice and it sure helps us feel very connected to you and your adventures. We're proud of you (and your soon to be in shape glutes... they just need a little direction *g*) On to North Carolina! Love and miss you lot'nLots'nLOTS! Mom and Dad

  2. I'm so enjoying reading about your adventure!
    Happy trails.

  3. Hey guys. So enjoy your posts! Feel like we are there with you-minus the hiking and camping of course :) Nice photos Dumptruck, of you too. As far as those glutes go, Dumptruck, I'm afraid you may have inherited the dreaded flat-ass Wilson syndrome. Fear not, I will wish your glutes much strength.
    We wish you well and continued beautiful journeys. Love you very much. Mom & Dad

  4. Does the Epsom thing work?? That would be awesome!