Day 13 – Zero in Franklin NC

Today was a town day, sorting out some medical issues and getting new boots.

I am staying at the Microtel which, by all accounts, is the best hotel in Franklin. The rooms are ok, the breakfast buffet is ok and the thru-hiker special rate of $54 is good value, but it is several miles of unwalkable major roads from the main downtown area with most of the useful shops, post office, etc and has no laundry service so you have to walk 0.8 miles of roadway with no sidewalks to a hidden shopping plaza to get to the closest laundromat – one which is not even mentioned in the town’s official Franklin Hiker Services’ leaflet! (said leaflet also not being mentioned by the hotel front desk when I checked in).

Anyway, after wondering around this hiker-unfriendly part of town in my rain gear for 30 minutes looking like a weirdo trying to find the laundromat (fellow thrus: go down PAST Lowes AND K-Mart and you see a secret unsignposted shopping plaza) while the sun beat down on me I eventually found it and turned bad-smelly clothes into good-smelly clothes, changing into more socially acceptable garb afterwards in the laundromat bathroom.

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Ah, the glamor.

When I headed back towards the hotel I decided to pop into the Angel Urgent Medical Centre and see if they could help with my lingering thumb+finger tingling and numbness. It had been 10 days or so since the disaster of Day 1 and it was still a constant problem. I was beginning to get a bit worried it was permanently damaged.

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Angel Urgent Care

They were friendly and registered me quickly and were able to cope with my UK-sourced travel/health insurance policy from True Traveller. The lady who registered me actually gave me her email address to forward her the insurance certificate I had filed in a Gmail folder. How modern! After only about 45 minutes I was seen by a doctor who did some tests and declared he was confident it was just residual nerve inflammation that would likely settle down in a few more weeks. He prescribed some strong NSAIDs to take for 2 weeks to reduce any muscle inflammation that might still be affecting the radial nerve.

So next stop was the nearest pharmacy where I also got some Epsom salts for my blisters and a rather nice banana protein milkshake.

Then I called Outdoor 76, an outfitter in what I like to call ‘the real Franklin’ and they sent a car to pick me up. Cool! In store (and a beautiful store it is too, though not big) I was helped by Rob, the co-owner and he took 2.5 hours with me to figure out the best way forward, giving me a ton of good information on making it to Maine as well as narrowing down a selection of new shoes for me to help my Achilles and blister problems. His main advice to me though was to slow down.

Rob is a great guy with a wealth of knowledge and very good communication skills. I had heard him on the Pox and Puss Podcast and had noted down that this was the place to come for footwear advice if I needed it. Here is a flavour of him in action:

Rob had to leave around 5 to get ready to go on vacation the next day so handed over to Jonathan. Together we decided on one of the two final pairs of hiking shoes (Vasque Mantra 2.0) and then he fitted some new Soles insoles as well. As Rob had earlier proclaimed my main blister to be one of the worst he had ever seen I will have to wait for it to die down before I know which insoles are best for me so I will just have to carry two pairs around for a week or two!

Here is Jonathan, a fan of classic British sitcoms and a dry wit himself:
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Outdoor 76 have a sideline interest in craft beers and encourage thru-hikers to sign one of the bar walls. So I did (mine is in there somewhere!). They also gave me a delicious bottle of a coffee stout.
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Between them Rob and Jonathan spent 4 hours helping me and then one of the staff drove me back to the hotel. Incredible customer service and I can’t thank them enough.

Anyway after all of that it was now dinner time and I still had a ton of chores to do (my ATM card doesn’t work in ATM machines, uncool!) so I booked another night at the Microtel, Rob’s long and stern lecture about slowing down still ringing in my ears and had my second Arby’s sandwich in two nights. Must try something else tomorrow!

10 thoughts on “Day 13 – Zero in Franklin NC

  1. Amazing service you had. Let’s hope the new boots and insoles work, you can’t carry on with blisters that bad. Seriously jealous of the coffee stout, sounds delish. You’re picking up a lot of new followers thanks to Wired it seems. Enjoy your rest.

  2. I am curious as to whether you are using “The A.T. Guide” by AWOL? I know he has incredibly detailed info on each hiker town with a mini map for things like laundry, best motel for hikers, etc…(I have a 2012 version). I have heard that most hikers use this instead of the official one put out by the ATC.

    1. Hi Laura. Yes I am using it. But the town maps are simplistic hand drawn diagrams with little sense of scale – for instance, the Franklin map says infers it is little more than 1 mile from the Microtel to Outdoor 76 (nobody could walk there anyway due to no sidewalks) but in fact it takes 10-12 minutes by car so I guess it is 3 miles or so. For the laundry issue I just followed the hotel’s directions which were abysmal, again due to people in the US being so car-oriented I think.

  3. I’m a Wired follower! I love reading your British accent! lol And I LOVE your tenacity, and push to continue on! I am rooting for you! Someday, I hope to have my turn, but until then, reading your blog will be good enough. My feet hurt just looking at those blisters…

  4. Hope your troubles are past you now. I am enjoying your journal and hope the new gear works out. I wass amazed that you had a bath in a laundrette. Those americans are crazy!

    1. Lol they sure are. I spend quite a bit if time over here so my vocabulary and phrasing gets a bit mixed up sometimes. If I ask for the bathroom or restroom in a UK restaurant by accident I do get strange looks!

  5. Loving the blog Phil, it’s great hearing you can get the help you need so easily plus they go the extra mile!! No pun intended!!
    Hope the new boots do the trick for you mate.
    All the best

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