Days 9 – 11 (3/9/15 – 3/11/15)

Day 9, 3/9/15

Start: Unicoi Gap
Finish: Sassafras Gap
Miles Hiked: 10.4
Miles To Go: 2125.9
Overall Miles Hiked: 63.3

With fresh clothes and a stocked food bag, we left Hiawassee and headed back to the trail around 10:00AM. Our goal was to walk to the next shelter, but by the time we got there the weather was still cooperating, so we pushed on. Around 6:00PM we reached a campsite at Sassafras Gap. Just when we had a nice fire going, the rain moved in. It is supposed to rain all week, but temperatures should be nowhere near last week. Billy Goat and I get along well with John. Hannah’s hiking speed is very similar ours too, so it looks like the four of us will be traveling together for the foreseeable future. Although it was not my intention, hiking in a small group is nice. Morale is up and friendly conversation helps pass the time. John is now Mountain Blazer because he is the fastest of us all, even at 56. He likes to start off behind us all, but it is not long before he blazes past us. I’ve been on the A.T. for over a week now and things are going well, so far. I’m having a blast fulfilling this silly dream of mine and my body is doing okay. Everything hurts and I only have one blister. It is raining pretty hard right now, but I’m hopeful that it will stop before morning. Breaking down a wet camp is not fun, plus it adds a few pounds of water to your soggy pack in the morning. Oh, and I told my Unicoi Gap story to a few other hikers here at our campsite – poetry snaps all around! Life is good!

View from Sassafras Gap

View from Sassafras Gap


Day 10, 3/10/15

Start: Sassafras Gap
Finish: Dicks Creek Gap
Miles Hiked: 6.3
Miles To Go: 2119.6
Overall Miles Hiked: 69.6

After sleeping through never ending rain, we got lucky at day break and packed up in a light drizzle. Packing up wet gear sucks! After hiking through on-again, off-again rain, we arrived at Dicks Creek Gap where we decided to eat lunch. A highway crosses the trail here and we saw a sign… and what a beautiful sign it was! It read, “Top of Georgia Hostel.” We were all smiles. I was the only one who wanted to keep hiking, but the others were fixated on the part that stated there were 13 inch pizzas for $6.00. They didn’t have to twist my arm too hard. Top of Georgia Hostel is run by Bob Gabrielson, better known as Sir-Packs-A lot. After showering and settling in, Bob said that he offers free pack shakedowns. A shakedown is when a professional hiker, such as Bob, goes through your entire pack and determines what you don’t really need to help save weight. An older guy volunteered first. I had been talking to him earlier when he told me he wanted a shakedown. When no one was looking, I added two big rocks to his pack and made a quick getaway! When Bob opened the section of his pack with the rocks and pulled them out of the pack, the whole room exploded with laughter. I never fessed up either! He was convinced his buddy did it earlier in the week and that he had been carrying the rocks throughout Georgia. That will make for an interesting conversation  when he meets back up with his buddy in a week!

Top of Georgia Hostel

Top of Georgia Hostel

The crew staying at the Top of Georgia Hostel

The crew staying at the Top of Georgia Hostel


Day 11, 3/11/15

Start: Dicks Creek Gap
Finish: Muskrat Creek Gap
Miles Hiked: 11.8
Miles To Go: 2107.8
Overall Miles Hiked: 81.4

I was one of the last ones to wake up at the shelter, no surprises there. After eating my regular breakfast of Poptarts and Snickers, I did my own pack shakedown. I actually saved myself from carrying about 5 lbs. of unneeded food and gear, bringing my base pack weight (everything but food and water) to 21 lbs. and to 29 lbs. total with my food and water – Not bad! Keeping your pack as light as possible will save your body over the long haul. Billy Goat and I were going through our packs when the shuttle that we were supposed on be on with Blazer and Hannah pulled out. Oh well. We had to wait another one and a half hours for the next one. We knew we were going to be hiking 12 of the hardest miles yet and the loss in time could put us hiking in the dark if we didn’t hustle. It rained, heavily at time, which turned the trail into a soupy mess, which was not very fun negotiating. With daylight running out, Billy Goat and I were hiking fast. Well, I may have been hiking too fast because I had my first fall this afternoon. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad as I escaped with just a small cut on my wrist and a bruised ass. Just before the shelter was the Georgia/North Carolina border. We made it out of Georgia in 9 days, which I think was pretty good; One state down! Billy Goat and I high fived and moved on. We made it to the shelter at 6:30PM set up our tents, ate dinner and went to bed.

Muskrat Creek Shelter

Muskrat Creek Shelter

I made it to the GA/NC border!

I made it to the GA/NC border!

Billy Goat at the GA/NC border

Billy Goat at the GA/NC border

Georgia was hard. In fact, I’d like to start a petition to name it Loose Rocks. The trail was littered with 1 – 20 lb. chunks  on granite hiding just beneath the fallen leaves, their only purpose is to make you trip. Either way, after miles of it your feet begin to deteriorate. Due to all the rain and snow, it has been hard to keep my feet dry in Georgia and for several days I had a painful rash on my toes that burned with every step. Once I started keeping my wet socks in the sleeping bag with me at night, which would dry them by morning, the problem went away. Other than my feet, my knees and quads hurt the most. 80 miles of lunges with a 30 lb. pack will do that to you. All in all, Georgia was great.The people along the way have been very helpful and trail magic was plentiful. We hear the trail in Georgia is about 4 out of 10 in terms of difficulty (with 10 being the hardest.) We have also heard that North Carolina is a 7…Yeah! Can’t wait. Physically, I’m in a lot of pain. Mentally, I am good, though. I crack jokes, again no surprises there, which helps keep everyone upbeat, in turn helping me feel better.