Julia here. I just got a phone call from Gronk. He is in Hiawassee with his hiking buddy Adam. Bert the German was hiking faster and went through Neels Gap before they got there, as evidenced by his sign-in on the register. It is good to have a hiking buddy, at least from time to time, even if you can phone your wife from the tops of mountains!
Peter says less than half the people he has met seem to have trail names. He will stay with Gronk but Adam suggested he might be called "Navigator" as he is always finding out where they are.
Today was a wet, cold, difficult day. It rained the whole time and they were walking in run-off that courses down the trails. Roots and rocks conspired to trip them up so they had to be careful. According to the White Blaze weather site, the temperatures were only around 11C so it was a chilly one, made worse by the rain. But, Gronk is still happy to be out there. As he says, no one is making him do this. He is there by choice!
He started to say that there has been no "trail treasure"* yet but then he remembered a fellow he met on the train out of Atlanta, going to North Springs. This guy had been a federal prosecutor for white collar crimes but had been surplussed like Peter (told his job was no longer necessary) and so had gone into defence work. He talked to Peter about hiking the AT and then gave him a $10 "Miss Emily's Pecan Log Roll" as his first bit of trail treasure. Unfortunately, they may have lost touch because something happened with the email address that Peter gave him. I suppose if he finds this blog, he could reconnect that way.
As soon as they checked in to the Budget Inn, Gronk had a hot shower that felt worth the walk. When he hung up, he was off to find a laundromat where he could dry out all his clothes and fluff up his down stuff. It looks like weather tomorrow will be better than today.
*Trail treasure is when you unexpectedly find something good for free along the trail. Often times, there are former hikers who put out food in coolers (sort of like feeding the squirrels) or people leave stuff for others.
Some pix just came in. Here is one view from his hammock in the morning:
And here is Hawk Shelter on day 2: