One State Down, Thirteen to Go!

Hello from North Carolina!

It’s crazy to think I’ve already completed an entire state! The past ~80 miles have gone by in a blur.

I picked a pretty rough day to start. The day was cold, rainy, and windy. I was too cold to really take breaks as I pushed up the approach trail and to Stove Creek Shelter. It definitely wasn’t an ideal day but I’m glad I didn’t push my start date back. I got to experience a very Type 2 fun kind of a day right off the bat and I learned that my rain jacket leaked.

(Luckily Days 3-7 were gorgeous, so I had plenty of time to get a replacement before it rained again on.)

Southern Terminus of the AT featuring bread bags to keep my hands dry

One of my worries coming into the trail was getting to know people and having company at camp.

I didn’t need to worry at all. I’ve been staying at shelters / camp spots on Far Out and I’ve yet to camp alone.

People tend to gather together to cook/eat/chat and I’ve been lucky enough to have campfires two different nights.

One of the hikers I met on night one, Robin, was my hiking buddy for the first few days. We tended to hike alone but we’d meet up for breaks and at camp. They got off at Neel’s Gap to take a zero (a day off hiking) but I’m hoping we’ll run into each other again later on trail.

On night 5, I ran into a fellow Trek blogger, No Shit, at Blue Mountain Shelter.

Day 6 was the hardest day physically yet. 15.5 trail miles with over 5,000ft of gain/loss. It was a long day but I felt really strong throughout it.

I got off trail for the first time at Dick’s Creek Gap on Day 7.  Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a shower after seven days of hiking. It felt great to get clean, but it felt weird to be off trail.

There was a ton of us at the hostel, so we all went into Clayton for dinner/resupply. I treated myself to a couple of apples and a great impossible meat burger.

The next day, I crossed the boarder into NC. I ended up crossing at the same time as two other hikers, Jennifer and Russ. I was feeling pretty tired so I stopped at the first shelter to wait out a storm that was going to roll in, but they kept moving. Hopefully I’ll run into them later down the trail!

In general, the past week or so has been a good test of my gear/introduction to the trail. It’s been a good reminder about the importance of sunscreen (the back of my knees/ears got a little toasted) and, even though I spent forever thinking about my gear, I’ve found some early flaws that have led to replacements.

  • My old rain jacket (Frog Toggs) was several years old and leaked so it was replaced with one I’ve been eyeing for a bit (Lightheart Gear).
  • Similarly, my old Neoair pad wasn’t warm enough, so I got an xterm instead.
  • I hated the wooden spoon I started with because it was too big for my mouth, so I switched to a titanium one.
  • I’ll also be picking up an extra pair of leggings so I have a pair of long pants to hike in and still keep my wool leggings dry for sleeping.

Hopefully these swaps will help keep me comfortable and sane through the Smokies!

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