Appalachian Trail Section Hike Days 4 – 5

Day 4

After a night of constantly falling down the incline our tent was set up on which resulted in zero amount of sleep for me (Heather), we decided to get a ride back to our car to get to a hotel for a much needed shower.  We called a couple of shuttles which resulted in no luck so Zach ventured into the Mountain Crossings store to look at the list of shuttles they had.  Within about 5 min, we were throwing our stuff into the back of this guy named Alpine’s car.  Thankfully an employee of the store flagged him down to see if he could give us a ride.  He had a husky named Aspen who we learned was a search and rescue dog.  IMG_0483

We drove up to Franklin, NC for the sheer fact there was a diner I desperately wanted to try.  We ended up getting a room at The Sapphire Inn (they have a pretty decent hiker rate btw).

Basically, we feasted in Franklin.  We had ice cream at this tiny place on Main Street, onion rings, burgers, and fries from the Motor Grill Co. Diner and enjoyed Zach’s favorite beer while playing in a ping pong tournament at The Lazy Hiker Brewery.

Due to this trip being in a tightly scheduled format because it was during our Spring Break, we thought we had to sorta forfeit the rest of our trip because of the unplanned zero day.  This also cost us an extra hotel fee and shuttle fee we were not expecting.  Shuttles are hella expensive! Next time, we’re thinking about using the old thumb out trick.

Day 5

After talking to Zach’s mom, we got the OK to keep going! We attempted to wash our clothes in the bathtub and hang them to dry overnight.  This did not work; so we found ourselves in a laundromat with McDonald’s breakfast waiting for our clothes to dry.

We had to yellow blaze it a little ways up the trail in order to meet our deadline.  With the car re-parked, we got a ride to Unicoi Gap from Top of Georgia Hostel.  As we unloaded the van, we were pleasantly surprised to have seen the three amigos we camped with back at Neel’s Gap.

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We gave ourselves a shorter mileage day ending at Tray Mountain shelter.  On our way we passed the cheesecake site.  It was a close to perfect campsite, and it already had chopped campfire wood which made us scratch our heads in confusion.  IMG_0508

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We trekked up Tray Mountain.  The climb was definitely tough, but the views at the top are pretty awesome.

Zach and I agree that Tray Mountain shelter was our coolest campsite so far.  You could say we had a room with a view.

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We had dinner and tea with an older couple from Florida who were bravely hammock camping in the cold and wind.  A storm was supposed to roll in that night, but fortunately it only made it to the land below us.  Talk about luck.  It’s also really cool to watch a storm from up above!

Happy Trails,

Zach & Heather

 

 

 

Appalachian Trail Section Hike: Day 2-3

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Day 2 woke us up with a beautiful sunrise.  The air, cool and brisk, almost like a fall morning.  I began breaking down camp while Zach made breakfast.  I chose to skip the most important meal of the day.  Don’t worry, my body was sure to remind me of that just a couple hours later.

We were aiming for Gooch Mountain shelter; the shelter being just about 7 miles up the trail.  We tossed the idea around of making our 7 miler into a 12.5 mile day in order to make the third day shorter.  Those 7 miles kicked our butts.  We didn’t end up making it to the shelter until about 3 pm.  Zach and I are two determined peeps so we decided to rest for a half hour at the shelter before heading out to attempt the next 5 miles.

Five hours later, after many ups and downs we made it to Woody Gap!  We were blessed along the way with some trail magic from Mr. Ron.  Never have we appreciated lollipops more! IMG_0406

Dinner that night was served with a side of Heather losing her guts.  We probably pushed ourselves a little too much on day 2, but at least day 3 went from being a 16 mile day to a 11 mile day.

DAY 3

The next morning we woke up feeling much better than the night before.  Our destination: Neel’s Gap.  First, we had to conquer Blood Mountain.

The first 4 miles flew by us.  Perhaps we were finally getting our trail legs?! We stopped by Lance Creek to refill our water bottles; later would we find out that the Norovirus was going around due to someone not adhering to a very important Leave No Trace principle…I’ll leave it at that.  Thankfully, our filter came through and we were never affected by it.

We linked up with another couple and their two dobermans who we eventually dubbed as the dober-duo.  The pups were brother and sister, and they acted like this trail was a piece of cake.

Then we started our ascent up Blood Mountain.  Zach has this thing about saying, “We’re almost to the top,” when in fact we are NOT almost to the top.  He does it to keep the mood up, or it may be because he’s over a foot taller than me and can actually see the top. When we did in fact make it to the top, we dropped our packs by the shelter and collapsed down beside it embracing the cold stone on our backs.

Everything that goes up, must come down.  Let me say that coming down Blood Mountain was more difficult than the climb up.  We were climbing down rocks, sitting and scooting down more rocks, and being thrown down the trail of… more rocks! Seeing the sign for Neel’s Gap felt like we were seeing the pearly gates.

We made it just in time to pick up our resupply box from the store as well as get a few treats with the gift card his mom gave us.  We were happy to learn that the gift card would have been good for the hostel and showers, but the day we were there the hostel was closed due to the virus.  So we embraced our stink and set up camp out back which ended up being a great night with a few thru-hikers.  Just a tip, if you’re ever feeling down just grab a bottle of Body Glide and read the label (you won’t regret it lol).

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It was this evening that Zach found out he PASSED the most important exam in his engineering career on his first time taking it! I’m so proud of him!!!

Our tent being set up on a slant we turned in for what would be an interesting night.

Happy Trails!

Zach & Heather

 

 

 

 

Appalachian Trail Section Hike: Day 1

We set off from a night in the quaint little town of Blairsville, GA to park our car at Deep Gap, NC.  The morning was cold; much colder than my Louisiana-raised body was prepared for.  As we turned down the gravel forest road, we saw snow lightly covering the mountainside.  We witnessed the morning sky turn from pitch black to light pink to the pale blue of the morning.  IMG_0361

We experienced our first dose of trail magic from the infamous Red Truck/Green Truck crew.  Filling our stomachs with hot breakfast, we waited for our shuttle to pick us up from the gap.  There was also the sweetest rottweiler/german shepherd mix named Duke who kept us company.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly…until we were about an hour in of the 2 hour drive on our shuttle to Springer.  We realized Zach’s wallet with both of our ID’s and money was left behind in the car.  Luckily, he put the cash for the shuttle in his pocket beforehand.  Our shuttle driver, Ms. Sally, offered to turn around, but it was already late in the morning and we had 8 miles ahead of us once we arrived to the trailhead.  Deciding to push forward with a “let’s see what happens” mindset, we continued our way to Springer.

Our destination for the evening being Hawk Mountain Shelter, we began our 8 mile journey.  The Appalachian Trail seems to bless its hikers with many creeks along the way to either refill water supply or just to have a nice spot for lunch.  DCIM100GOPRO

That’s exactly what we did about 2 miles in! We enjoyed a nice and much needed lunch of: beef jerky and cheese for me and tuna and crackers for Zach.  IMG_0378

A little further down we happened across this larger creek.  Thankfully, there was a bridge to help us get across.  IMG_0372

Other creeks had tiny bridges (pictured above), which I made my way across with extreme caution.  Zach crossed them without a problem, of course. IMG_0379

After about 5 hours of hiking, we made it to the shelter! If there’s anything we don’t regret bringing it’s our camp shoes (flip flops) and a deck of cards! Being able to take off our shoes and let our feet breathe is a luxury at the end of a day on trail.  As for the deck of cards, it makes time pass as we waited for dinner time.  Yes, those are our socks airing out on top of the tent. Lol  We were also lucky to meet some awesome thru-hikers.  A few being a guy named Tangerine Dream, Captain Chaos and his dog, Mayhem, as well as a guy from Quebec.  Trying to save on fuel, dinner ended up being a slightly undercooked Mac’n’cheese, but delicious nevertheless. 

We couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling of not having a way to pay for things in case of emergency.  Before settling in for the night, one of us realized we had service at the shelter.  Zach got in touch with his Mom, while I searched google for any options we may have had.  She saved the day (and our trip morale) by sending us a gift card, through email, for Mountain Crossings/ Neel’s Gap which was our destination for Day 3, for resupply or hostel/showers if needed.  

Day 1 was complete and we were feeling great! 8 miles down on this exciting Adventure! 

Happy Trails! 

Zach & Heather