Nights at Gooder Grove and the Stone Tower

It was a short day for hiking yesterday. While dodging rains, Solo and I came down into a gap with a dirt road and met a guy named Arthur. Arthur is a chef and a badass.


Dude is an inspiration and all round interesting guy. He started the trail 3 weeks ago at 305lbs and a smoker. He’s lost 44lbs already (the hostel has a scale) by hiking over a 100 miles and is walking home to his front door and family in Connecticut, a literal new man. It’s going to be an awesome moment and I already wish I could be there to see it. I’m going to be following up with him. Something tells me I’m going to see him again down the trail. Hear his story below about his first moments on the trail.

So back to our meeting on the trail, Arthur has a shuttle on the way from a hiker hostel and Solo needs food, so we split the ride 3 ways and head down the mountains into Franklin, NC.

Hostels come in a lot of flavors. Gooder Grove Hostel is what I imagined a true hiker hostel to be like. A bit more personal and warm. A good deal eclectic with its quirks, perfect to attract that transient hiker type with a story.

The guy that runs it, trail name Zen, basically has a cool house on the hill overlooking the historic center of Franklin and he’s opened his home to fellow travelers.

The bunks there are the best so far, and the rules, by far the least. Hot showers, coffee, good people and lines to dry everything for $23.

I think about a dozen people came through last night, not all current hikers, but all great. Solo and I had dinner with Chris and Mandy in town. Chris has a survival YouTube channel with 30k followers. I need to check it out.

After a chicken quesadilla dinner in town from a food truck and some live music at the local brewery we headed to Ingles Market to restock. If you are thinking about doing the AT, or more than a week long section, go ahead and get your Ingles member discount card. It’s going to be the place you land at in these towns for big resupply, so far at least. Hostel shuttles tend to drop you at the large markets in town, which have always been Ingles. Once back at Gooder Grove we all shared our best trail stories on the large front porch and had good laughs. I recorded some of the audio, I hope to post one of Arthur’s stories. Zen took me and Solo back to the trail in the morning. We ended up at Winding Stair Gap, skipping 9 miles of trail. Arthur is taking a zero to heal some badly bruised up feet. It was a good day with little rain and good sights.

We put in 10 miles and summited Wayah Bald. This peak has a really great stone tower on top of it, with the clouds, it has a great spooky movie feel.

As the clouds rolled in at 8:30, we decided to build a quick fort in the top and make dinner and crash up here. A few mice are terrorizing us so I hung our food under the pavilion roof and I setup a noise alert trap on the stairs with our hiking sticks should anything try lumbering on up here. Hopefully morning coffee has a clear view with it, before any authorities get here; because while not stated, I’m guessing there’s not supposed to be any camping up here… But it sure is a cool place with great wind block, a roof and a huge view. I feel pretty damn comfortable and secure up here. So shhhh, don’t tell anyone.

Morning update:

Zero visibility, everything slightly damp, windy. I’m tired, sleep wasn’t great, but I’m real happy with the warmth and comfort of my sleeping system.

Just had breakfast and coffee down below, packed up and hitting the trail at 7:30am. I am looking to do 16 miles today hopefully. It’ll depend on the rain. Smokey Mountains or bust baby!

I was comparing some stats last night. My activity in elevations climbed vs my normal at home stats. Quite the difference, kinda cool…

3 thoughts on “Nights at Gooder Grove and the Stone Tower

  1. Poor Arthur! His heals! Still bruised and sore and he is keepin on! Moving forward! Inspiration comes from some of the places you least expect it! I can actually close my eyes and see your booby trapped stairs! You’ll have to write a how to book when your done! Solo and Duece….be safe! Cheering you on and looking forward to more updates! Cheers from GA!

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