“Mule” and “Inchworm” hike Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Published 3:49 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Oct. 8 tornado blows hikers into Landrum/Tryon area for Foothills hospitality

Editor’s Note: The following is the trail diary of Bernie and April Hester (also known by trail names Mule and Inchworm) from Okacie, S.C. on day 9 of the Palmetto Trail hike.

Wow, what a day yesterday! At least we had a roof over our heads, no power, but thankful we rode that out in a house and not in a tent! So, we woke up this morning looking forward to one more zero day before moving on. We had a reservation at the Pine Crest Inn, it has a ton of history and badly wanted to enjoy that area.

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In the dark we searched around to find all our gear to pack, only a 1.9 mile hike into town and to the Inn. We were still getting rain bands so we pretty much figured we were gonna get a little wet. The storm hit last night right when we were in the middle of washing some clothes so I was packing an additional 3 pounds of wet clothes with the plan to stop at a laundromat prior to going to the Inn.

Our first challenge, get around the downed power lines and pole just outside our front door. We make pretty easy work of it being extra careful just in the remote chance they are live. Once past we could really see the destruction! Where we were was just on the outside edge of what we would later find out was a F1 tornado. The next 200 to 300 yards of road was littered with trees, power lines and poles. As we were making our way through we ran into a police officer who said all of Tryon was without power and they were getting everyone out of the area we were in and not to come back, we told him no problem!

So the day went from an easy 1.9 mile hike to uh oh, we have no where to stay tonight! The only plan: push as far and hard as we can. As we push towards Landrum on the Blue Wall Passage over and over everyone lets us know Tryon is not the place to go and the rain comes in bands. Right before Landrum we hit our first 100 miles! 400 to go!

By around 1 pm we make Landrum and stop at Southern Delights & More for lunch. What a great place! We hang out to dry, check weather and try and figure out that night’s plan. We order to go’s for dinner and strike out around 2 pm. We make quick work of the first 10 miles of the day and by 3 pm are starting to worry about tonight.

Not long after a break where we had decided our only choice was to push as far as possible then look to stealth camp, we met Chuck Hearon. He pulled over and got out of his truck and said first time I’ve ever seen anyone thru hiking the PT. We talked about our hike and how far we’ve come. He thru hiked the AT back in 1999 and wanted to pay if forward for the goodwill he received during his thru hike.

He had a second home with a guest house right on the trail and offered for us to stay in the guest house tonight. Wow, we were out of options and then this! I can’t say enough about the great people we’ve met so far and we’ve only gone 100 of 500 miles! Chuck even open up his main house for us to do laundry and dry those clothes I’d been carry all day! 

I can feel this hike changing me, and Inchworm said the same thing, there are so many good people out there! Before leaving Chuck even donated to our Finish MS Hike!

What a great day this turned into after a rough start. When thru hiking you never know what direction your day will take!

We are doing it again! Mountains to Sea this time. Never sell yourself short, you can do anything you put your mind to!

– by Mule and Inchworm submitted by Chuck Hearon