My Appalachian Trail thru-hike continues as I cross from Georgia into North Carolina.
After I had a breakfast of three Krispy Kreme donuts, Michael and I caught the 9am shuttle from our motel back to Dick’s Creek Gap. It rained for the first three hours of hiking. My waterproof boots got wet, possibly from the seams around the laces. I’m sure this helped my blisters immensely. They seemed to dry out mostly by the day’s end or at least the socks soaked up the water.
The most exciting part of the day was around noon when we crossed the Georgia border into North Carolina! One state down, thirteen more to go.
The second half of the day was sunny. I can’t remember what else happened because by the time we set up our tents at Standing Indian Shelter we were cold and tired. The late start from the motel made for a quick dinner and then bed.
Oh, and Michael burnt our Jetboil stove. I walked up to him cooking and then he immediately threw it to the ground as the plastic flamed and melted. We put out the fire in time so that the stove is still usable, although the self-starter melted away. No one wants to go to bed hungry after hiking 16 miles. Michael would later admit reluctantly that it was his error that led to the flaming Jetboil.
Having been one full week on the trail, it’s been fun, I’ve overcome obstacles and many many aches and pains. If I can get this far I am confident in my abilities on the trail.
Day’s Mileage: 16.7 miles
Total Miles Hiked: 94.5
Remaining Miles: 2,105.2
It was a cold night. There was frost on the ground and as I packed up my tent it began to snow. We planned a grueling day of almost 20 miles, our longest yet.
We set off in what became a snow shower for a few hours. We could still see the trail but we were making tracks. Quite the nice change. I’ll take snow over rain. Everything was pretty in white; broke up the monotony of seeing the same dead trees waiting for spring.
By midday the sun was out and the snow slowly disappeared. The trail was relatively flat and easy. A good day. Two-thirds of the way, we scaled Albert Mountain. Up to this point, the trail has not been as well maintained in North Carolina compared to Georgia. Albert Mountain was our steepest ascent yet. We were practically rock climbing at one point but the view was beautiful. The mountain is topped with a fire tower to watch for wildfires back in the day.
We continued on and eventually made it to Rock Gap Shelter. It was built in 1965 and only sleeps 6. One other guy joined us but it was cold. We were impressed that we hiked almost 20 miles in under 10 hours. We couldn’t have done that a week ago. We made a quick dinner and went to bed before dusk. It was freezing and expected to drop to 15 degree lows at night. I hope we make it. Also, I hope that the mice in the old shelter don’t get into our packs. I can hear them in the walls.
Day’s Mileage: 19.7 miles
Total Miles Hiked: 114.2
Remaining Miles: 2,085.5
Cold morning. As soon as we hit the trail it started snowing and didn’t stop until 3pm. Probably a half inch of snow in total. The day never warmed up but the trail wasn’t too bad. Only a few steep mountains to climb.
We haven’t seen too many people on the trail lately except for today. Mostly we are passing people and haven’t been passed ourselves. I’m hoping we are staying ahead of the crowds that left March 1st. Most thru-hikers begin their hike in March and April. They call this the bubble and we are trying to stay ahead of this crowd. Though each day I’m sore and tired and feel like I’m slowing down, our pace seems to be picking up. We average about 2mph.
We made it to Wayah Shelter. It was small and we shared it with three others. Everyone else arrived later and had to tent. This was our strategy: to arrive early and claim our spots, and it worked. Temperatures are supposed to drop tonight to zero with 40mph winds. Perks of being on a mountain. I’m sleeping with layers on and my water bottle is in my sleeping bag so it doesn’t freeze. We are only three days from the Smoky Mountains, I believe. Also, I think I need to eat more. I guzzled some nearly frozen olive oil today to supplement my dinner; it’s 120 calories per tablespoon.
Day’s Mileage: 14.8 miles
Total Miles Hiked: 129.0
Remaining Miles: 2,070.7
Daily Average: 14.3 miles
Riser is favorite album by Dierks Bentley and the title track is all about keeping on keeping on.