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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Zach & Heather