Day 34 – Mile 156 – Cody Gap

April 9
12 miles hiked

Today was maybe my longest hiking day (hours). I was on the trail from 830am until 430 pm. It was a mix of weather as well. At about 9:30 it was foggy and hailing then by 11 there were patches of sun the rest of the day.

At about 6 miles in there was trail magic at Stecoah Gap which crosses a highway. Someone left fruit and soda – I had an apple and a Mt. Dew. It is weird what foods you crave out here. At home I like diet coke or Dr pepper but so far while hiking all I want is citrus sodas and orange fanta is the best but Mt Dew is close so I really enjoyed today’s magic.

After that brief break was “Jacob’s Ladder” – a 700 foot climb in 6 tenths of a mile. It was tough but short enough that I was able to get over it quickly.

Over the top of that hill I finally caught up with good and plenty and toasted toad. We ate lunch and planned our camping spot. We hiked 3 more miles of brief ups and downs to Cody Gap because it has water source and camping spots. I hiked .2 miles down to get water and noticed a great spot to hang my hammock. Its a really pretty area where 3 creeks run together. It shouldn’t rain tonight so I won’t hang my tarp, the moon and stars are very bright above me right now but I’m so exhausted I think that I should sleep well.

Tomorrow will be a short day to Fontana Dam.

Day 33 – Mile 144 – Sassafras Gap Shelter

April 8
6.7 miles hiked

I felt good today except for the last mile or so. It is a 3000 foot climb out of N.O.C. but at least the weather was really nice. ‘Good and Plenty’ and ‘Toasted Toad’ started two hours before me because I had some chores to do before leaving since I will probably be on trail for 10 days straight. I was having trouble ordering a sleeping pad from REI so I just called them and got it done.

I have been hiking with Toad and GNP since I left Franklin last Thursday. My trail name is Townie since I spend more days in town then on trail.

I caught up with them the last half mile before this shelter. They continued on but I stayed here since it was not windy and there was a great place to hang my hammock.

I plan on getting up early tomorrow so I can catch those two at some point. GNP gets up late so that should be easy.

BTW, GNP is a women from key west Florida and Toasted Toad is a retired secret agent from SC.

I should be in the smokies in 3 days.

Update

I had a rough time for a couple of weeks that I will eventually blog about. I have notes for all of the missing entries but I just didn’t feel like posting them at the time. I am going to start doing daily posts again starting today.

Day 11 – Helen, GA – Zero Day

Helen is pretty cool. It’s a bit of a tourist Trap and expensive but I hear its much better than Haiwassee so I’m glad I’m here.

I was able to watch the Timbers game (my local MLS club) and I’m really happy about that despite it being a draw.

Colin and I have arranged a shuttle to Dicks Creek tomorrow morning at 7am.

Day 10 – Mile 69.6 – Dicks Creek Gap

11 miles hiked

Colin and I hit the trail at 8:25 and we hiked fast. It took us a little over 4.5 hours to get to Dicks Creek Gap but the last 2 miles were awful. We heard of trail magic ahead so we sped up and it was like a mirage for the last hour of hiking. The next time I hear there is trail magic ahead I will ignore it and just take it as it comes, its not worth the mental strain.

The magic was worth it though. Two separate church groups were there; Clarksville Vineyard Christian Fellowship (a men’s group) and Glenloch Baptist. This was the best trail magic so far – one had chili and the other had hot dogs.

A man and his grandson overheard Colin and I mention we wanted to make it to Helen for the night and offered us a ride. We rode in the back of his truck.

Helen is an odd town with a Bavarian theme.

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We plan on taking a zero tomorrow since we pushed so hard the last two days. Plus, rain is in forecast.

Day 9 – Mile 58.6 – Tray Mountain Shelter

Hiked 15.4 miles

I woke up early and was on trail by 7:20am. This was the most miles I have done so far. I didn’t see anyone else until 10 miles in at Unicoi Gap. It was a warm day and there were two tough summits; Rocky Mountain and Tray Mountain. At about 13 miles in, a lady stopped me on the trail and gave me two Tangerine’s, she also informed me that there was trail magic about a mile ahead. I had already not been eating enough calories so this was great news.

I got to Tray Gap and there were two guys with a barbecue. They gave me an ice cold Mt Dew and a cheeseburger. I had another burger, thanked them, and continued on up Tray Mountain.

Colin showed up and we have plans for Helen, GA – it will be a tough day of hiking tomorrow to reach Dicks Creek. We plan on setting off at 8:30.

Tray Mountain Shelter was on the summit and was very windy but had great views. I set up my hammock on the side of the ridge that was not windy. I think I’ll be fine tonight as long as the wind doesn’t change direction.

Miscellaneous Stuff:
People met; Flash and Noodle (mother and daughter section hikers), Dent.

Day 8 – Mile 43.2 – Low Gap Shelter

11.5 miles hiked

Today was horribly windy and cold. I anticipated rain, snow, and cold weather but wind is something I had not given much thought.

I had the best sleep of my night last night since I started. I got all packed up and headed to Mountain Crossings for resupply. Once everything was loaded I started up the trail in the chilly wind. One hand got so cold I had to carry both poles with the other hand and put the cold one in my pocket. The wind didn’t die down all day since the trail followed a ridge the entire way. There were a few moments of respite where I got out of the wind, which is good for your sanity.

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I reached Low Gap Shelter and set up for the night. There were about 30 hikers here tonight, maybe the most I have seen yet. I met a guy named Colin and he had similar ambitions as me for the next couple of days. Sunday looks like it will be nasty rain so we were talking about doing big miles tomorrow since it should be nice weather.

Randy has a bad knee so he will try and make it to the town of Haiwassee and get a brace.

I plan to get an early start tomorrow. My alarm is set for 6:20am. It should be the coldest night yet though, so who knows when I’ll want to get out of bed.

Miscellaneous stuff:
People met; Moxy (has guitar), Hail Stones.

Something that surprises me is how surprised people are to hear that I’m from Oregon. Most people on the trail are from surrounding states so they think its cool that I came all the way from the west coast. I guess this relates to people at home asking why I dont hike the PCT.

Day 7 – Mile 31.7 – Neel Gap

Hiked 7.4 miles

It rained hard all night but my tarp worked great. I woke up at 6am because I knew it would take a long time to get packed in the rain.

I got on the trail at 7:15 with my headlamp on. It was light enough a half hour later to hike without a light. It was still raining hard and I was alone the entire hike until I started to descend Blood Mountain. The top of Blood is supposed to have great views but not today. It was fogged in so this was my best view.

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Here I am enjoying my summit time.

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I got to Neel Gap at 11 and talked to Randy who left at 3am because his bivy leaked. He bought a new tent at Mountain Crossings, the outfitter at Neel Gap.

We decided to stay in a cabin for the night. The cabin was a great deal. We got a place with two rooms with queen beds, our own bathroom and shower, a full kitchen, and free laundry that they did for us. Also, they sent another hiker to us later in the day so it only cost $20 each. We cooked a frozen pizza in the oven and watched Shaun of the dead on HBO.

Day 6 – Mile 24.3 – Lance Creek Campground

We got a shuttle this morning at 830am to the trail. Hiking was a breeze and we made it to our destination at 12:30. We couldn’t go any further because the next section requires bear canisters so we’ll camp here and hike through that section in the morning.

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Randy and I plan to hit the trail by 7am so we can get to the next campground before the crowd. The hiker traffic is high right now so we need to plan around the others. Supposedly a lot of people drop out past this next section.

I plan to do a light resupply in Neels Gap and then a bigger one in Hiawasee. We are eager for some whiskey so we might take a zero there too.

As am writing this I think I hear a bear trying to get someone’s food bag out of a tree. Hope he doesn’t get mine.

Day 5 – Suches, GA – Zero day

Just resting here in suches for a day. Feel guilty for not being out on the trail but I know this will be best in the long run.

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We are pretty bored here since its such a small town. I bought a six pack of Coors light and drank them all on the porch in the sun while grooming my feet. That was the highlight of my day.

A 72 year old man who is staying here is named Seattle Sailor. He has thru hiked before and then sections a few other years. We have been picking his brain all day. He’s a really nice guy and is heading back on the trail tomorrow as well.

I got a bed instead of a bunk tonight so I should get some good sleep.

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