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.

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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.

Day 4 – Mile 17.2 – Suches, GA – Nero day

I am taking a Nero day, which is a day where you hike nearly zero miles. I am ok for the most part but I have some soreness that is getting worse so I want to rest tomorrow and then continue Tuesday.

This morning Randy and I hiked 1.5 miles to gooch gap and called a hostel in Suches. They promptly picked us up and took us into town. The bunks just have a piece of carpet on particle board so it could be a rough night for sleeping.

The people who own the wolf pen country store which is connected to the hostel are really nice. The lady who picked us up has the last name Gooch, the same as the mountain I slept on last night. Its named after them.

We were dissapointed to find out that Suches abides by Georgia’s blue laws and does not sell alcohol on Sunday. We’ll have to wait for breakfast to get that ice cold beer we keep talking about.

At the hostel with us are a couple from Kansas , a guy from Florida, and an 72 year old man from Seattle. They are good company but are all heading back on the trail tomorrow.

Tomorrow should be uneventful but I am already eager to get back on the trail.

Day 3 – Mile 15.8 – Gooch Mt Shelter

What a day. Weather was perfect and the two mountains that were supposed to be really tough were actually quite easy for me. I got into the shelter at 2 o’clock and set up my hammock to lay in the shade.

During the hike there was a beautiful stream crossing. I stopped and put my bare feet in and it felt great.

Me and the guy I have been hiking with, Randy, are going to hike to a town called suches tomorrow then take a zero day on Monday. We both have small injuries that we’d rather take care of now. Suches has a hostel that we’ll stay in. Unfortunately this means we’ll miss some much talked about trail magic at woody gap just 6 miles from here.

Tonight I am camping under the stars, no tarp.

Day 2 – Mile 8.1 – Hawk mountain shelter

Didn’t sleep much last night, partly due to it raining and me not wanting to get out and adjust my hammock. I think another reason is just not being used to sleeping outside.

I got up a little late and didn’t hit the trail until 9:15. Reached Springer Mt. And the official start of the AT a bit later.

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I have been hiking with Randy the most but we split up off and on. I met a group of girls from San Diego who are pretty fun. They built a fire at the shelter that I didn’t help at all with I threw a stick in and blew on it a little and one of them tried to give me the trail name ‘little helper’ – I dont think it’ll stick. It would be better than ‘Skirt’ which almost happened on springer when some referenced my rain kilt as a skirt.

I felt great hiking until the last 3.5 miles today. I need a big rest tonight. I am planning on sleeping at 9 so we’ll see how that goes. Tomorrow has some tough mountains. One experienced hiker said that tomorrow will make or break a lot of people.

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