I have only 20 miles (= 1 day) to go and the completely unforeseen happened: I am stopped by a forest fire. This is so unbelievable as it is fucking cold right now and rainy and overcast that you would think of anything but a forest fire. But there it is: US Forest Service has closed the trail between Woody Gap and Gooch Gap. When I was told that at Walasi-Yi Center I first thought they were joking, but unfortunately it is true. Fortunately, Flat Feet, another triple crowner lives in Suches, which is 2 miles from Woody Gap. So I called him and I am staying there right now. And there is a detour around the fire, so life is not so bad anyway. According to the weather forecast it will rain on the day I will finish. Well, I started in rain so I might as well finish in rain. But it was much warmer when I started. Despite my 10 degree Fahrenheit sleeping bag I am starting to freeze my ass off at night. Maybe this is mother Nature's way of telling me that it is time to finish the trail. And when I am in Australia sweating like a pig I will probably be longing for some cold.
Also trail magic is abundant: When I tried to hitch into Hiawasse I got a ride with an Alaskan fishing guide. And guess what: After 10 minutes I got invited to stay at his place. Which saved me 50$ for a motel room, gave me some interesting stories about Alaska and taught me a new word: FUBAR (the Americans will know what that means and for the Germans: It is a word not to be used in public). Unfortunately, this guy turned out to be an alcoholic (what else do you expect from someone from Alaska?) and I have never seen anyone drinking a whole bottle of Bourbon in one evening. I also have never seen anyone smoke so much either! But we still had a lot of fun together and I even made it back to the trail alive ... with him driving and me praying.
Today I was happily hiking along the trail when I meet another hiker. He tells me that he met me last year on the CDT - this thruhiker world is really small. But it got much better when his two hiking companions turned up who happened to be from Australia. And in 10 minutes I ended up with 2 places to stay in Australia. Long distance hiking community international I would say.