Hiked 9 miles today (69.6-78.6). Today did not go as expected. With over 24 hours off trail in Hiawassee, we all expected to be ready to tackle the trail. Instead, the climbs were tough and we were all pretty sore. Hiked with BC. Had lunch at Plumorchard Shelter and ran into Wingnut, Foxy and the little dogs.
They shared cookies from their grandma they got in a mail drop. Totally hit the spot! We brought our bag of wine (box wine without the box) that was leftover from the night in Hiawassee. There was a young group and an old group with us and they looked mesmerized by the wine bag. I remember people saying, “That’s an awesome idea!” “We thought you were trail bums, but you’ve got class!” and of course many laughs followed. We also got other thru hikers following that now, it’s fun!
After a lot of climbing, we finally made it to Bly Gap and made it into North Carolina! 1 state down, 13 more to go! Celebrated with BC, finishing off the bag of wine we lugged up the mountain.
A big thunderstorm blew in as we were going to sleep. We watched lightning that was way off in the distance. Super windy and rainy, but was a better spot than where everyone else at the gap was (by the spring with a lot of gnats and only slanted tent spots!).
Day 11- 4.1.15
78.6- we quit
78.6-87.8. Hiked 9.2mi today. The first few minutes on the trail were brutal! We kept saying, “welcome to North Carolina!” like it was the punchline to the giant, steep mountain we were trying to climb!
We stopped for lunch at Muskrat Creek Shelter and passed a group of trail maintainers. Once we got to Deep Gap, we ran into another trail maintainer coming down from the north. “Do any of you guys like beer?” “Uh, yeah.” He gave us each a beer and a small bag of chips. Just what we needed before hiking up our tallest mountain yet!
Trail maintainers were from Natahala Trail Club.
(Side note: in talking with them, we learned that a lot of volunteers are retirees. They lug chainsaws, axes, rakes, etc. up the mountains to keep the trails clear and to maintain areas that are getting washed out. The trail is maintained by groups of volunteers that are assigned sections of the trail to maintain. This group is in charge of 60 miles! If you are out on any trail, do what you can to minimize your impact. Do a few minutes of research on the principles of ‘Leave no Trace.’)
Anyways… We stopped by the Standing Indian Shelter to get water and busted through the new Sawyer Squeeze bottle we picked up from the hiker box! Definitely switching to a water bottle when we get to town! (Also got free honey buns at the shelter!). We camped at the top of Standing Indian Mountain. ~5500MSL. Beautiful sunset views from the clearing at the very top!
Camped with BC, Dani, Mu Shu and Luna (a dog). Some guy fell and busted his face up pretty bad. My Shu though he may have had a concussion and walked him down the mountain to the gap so he could catch a ride into town. Glad I have trekking poles! They have definitely saved me from falling flat a few times!
Day 12- 4.2.15
Hiked 10.7mi today (87.8-98.5). It rained a bit overnight, so everything was a bit soggy. It was misty all day, but thankfully, not too cold and we had a gentle downhill for the first few miles.
Christy got her trail name today! Fancy Pants. Because she changes her clothes all the time, so it fits :). We were planning for an easy day today, but ended up hiking about a mile past our intended campsite (Betty Creek Gap) so that we would have less of a climb in the morning.
It looks like we are camped on where the trail used to go-about 10 ft below where the trail currently is. (Side note- most of the AT is not along its original route. It has been rerouted over the years for various reasons and has thus increased in length. This year’s AT is about 4 miles longer than last year’s). Rain started around 8 and we jumped into the tent. We ended up organizing our stuff for a bit then went to bed early. And didn’t get up until 8 the next morning. Hikers are pretty lazy!