Tuesday: February 7 through Tuesday, February 22 Because I expected some pain (muscles, feet, back, etc.) related to hiking, as I went through the early days of my hike; I wasn’t necessarily surprised that I was actually experiencing some. My concern was mostly focused upon whether the back pain represented possible irreversible damage. At that point I felt I needed to get home to Maine; and get some solid medical advice. Most noteworthy in this effort were people who came to my immediate assistance.
I had met Mike and Brenda at breakfast my “slack” day when I stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Express in Hiawassee. We happened to meet again on Tuesday morning and after chatting a few minutes, they found out that I planned to head to Atlanta and fly back to Maine. I found out that they lived a bit south of the Atlanta airport, and were willing to take me to the airport on their way back home. Needless to say, such kindness and good fortune was just what I needed! Within 15 minutes, we were on our way…and by 10:30 p.m. I was being met by my best friend “Matty G” at the Portland, ME Jetport!
The next two weeks went very fast! I was able to schedule two visits with my Primary Care Physician, for Osteopathic Manipulation. Additionally, I met with a second Physician for his opinion (including digital X-ray scans). With a better understanding of my back issues, the reassurance that I was not doing permanent damage to my back, and how to best manage any issues in the future; my focus turned to getting back to the Trail.
After a couple more days I was able to make arrangements (leaving on Sunday, February 19) to drive Gail’s car to to NC from Quincy, MA. Sunday, February 19th I took the Downeaster train from Wells, ME to Boston’s North Station. There, I was met by Gail’s friend, who took me to Quincy, MA and gave me the key to her car and directions to I-93. The drive itself was uneventful, with an overnight stay near Baltimore-Washington International Airport in a Microtel; the final destination being Carolina Beach, NC. I was met by Gail who set-me-up at another Microtel for the night; and, gave me some additional funds to cover my out-of-pocket expenses and a bus ticket to Greenville, SC. The next morning Gail drove me to the bus depot in Wilmington, NC and I spent nine hours traveling to Greenville, SC.
I had arranged to stay in Easley, SC (west of Greenville on routes 123/76) on Tuesday night. However, having arrived at 8:00 pm, I chose to take a taxi the 11 miles (instead of hitching) to the Jamison Inn. On Wednesday morning I began hitching towards Dick’s Creek Gap (87.7 miles). I avoided hitching in towns, as in some municipalities this is illegal. I got my first ride a few miles west of Easley and this brought me to the east side of Clemson, SC. I walked through Clemson and about three miles west where I got a ride from a Clemson University’s free shuttle service bus to west Seneca, SC. After walking a few more miles west I got a third ride to Route 76, north of Westminster, SC. And, a half-mile north of that ride, I got my forth ride which took me into Clayton, NC. Between the generosity of these four rides and nearly 20 miles of road walking… I was ready to stop for the day. As I was within 100 yards of a Days Inn, I negotiated a night there and rested for the next day!