Appalachian Trail 2023 – Days 8 – 15

Day 8 – Zero Day

On day 8 I got a bit of a late start, well no start to be honest. I decided to take another zero at Hostel Around the Bend. Had a town outing to Hiawassee for some delicious Mexican Food and some fun at the Brewery with everyone else at the hostel. We headed home around 5 pm and ended up playing a mean game of Uno which lasted for more than an hour. And thus a tramily was formed here.

Day 9 – Dicks Creek to Muskrat Shelter

We caught the late shuttle to Dicks Creek and hit trail about 0830. We had a plan to make it to Muskrat Shelter. Macaroni, Christmas Colors, Double Down, Weekend Warrior and I all made the sprint for the NC/GA border. Only 8-10 miles away from the gap we made good time and got there! We made it to the shelter around 1530 got set up in the shelter, had dinner, played another game of Uno with around 10 others and then were greeted by high winds, hail, and rain.

Day 10 – Muskrat to Betty Creek Gap

16.2 miles. What a night at Muskrat Shelter. The thunderstorm kept most of us up the night with its electrifying show. We made our way through the North Carolina Bear Sanctuary. We split up most of the day until Betty Creek. North Carolina really showed her colors and views this day! We finished up the day with four rounds of Uno, Charades, trying to bear hang our bags and Tent Yoga

Day 11 – Betty Creek to Swinging Lick Gap

This day I headed out early again to get some space between me and the tramily so I could finish around the same time as them. The heaves up and over each of the gaps were killer. I hit the 100-mile marker on trail of which I previously didn’t think I’d ever make it this far, but I got through the injuries and self-doubt and made it. At camp that night I held down the fort because we lost Double Down and he never turned up so Macaroni and Christmas Colors decided to head into Franklin to see if they could track him down. Well, they found out he had to get off trail and go to the hospital for an ankle injury. They came back and enjoyed some beers while I enjoyed the town food they brought me for keeping an eye on camp and keeping a warm fire ready for them. I moseyed off to bed and tried to get some sleep. This night is finally when I embraced my trail name of Bear Magnet. Why? Well, since starting my adventure at Amicalola I have seen 10 bears up to this point when I’d add the 11th. Regardless of me hanging my backpack and bag up in the tree, I awoke to a creepy feeling I was being watched. Well, indeed I was, a black bear had decided to plop down right outside my tent and just stare in for only god knows how long. Well, I scared it off and it returned a handful of times that night and kept me up throughout the night. Not aggressively just inquisitively.

Day 12 – Swinging Lick Gap to Cold Spring

I headed out early again as it worked well the day prior getting me to camp in just the nick of time with my tramily. However, Macaroni and Christmas Colors decided they hit the jets and left me in the dust. We all made it to a bald and had lunch. We cruised down and then back up to Cold Spring where we’d meet some nasty neighbors. However, we adopted Bridgette and her brother Kevin from New Hampshire, Sunshine from Germany,  Swiss from Switzerland, and Ricky from PA to our tramily as we made progress towards the shelter. When we got there we were a little loud and rambunctious, but who wouldn’t after a 15 mile day. Well, we had our lovely neighbors yell at us for having a fire, playing games, and just trying to let loose a little. We didn’t let it dampen our spirits to much though and we ended up fading away into the night. A plus was there were no bears messing with me this night.

Day 13 – Cold Spring to Nantahala

I woke up around 0530 for no apparent reason other than to get the show on the road apparently. I packed everything up and got on up out of there. I ended up hiking with the guy we’ve named the Naturalist because this dude is literally walking in shorts only and nothing else on the trail. Not sure how he’s making it but he’s the happiest guy around! I cruised down the mountain in about 4.5 hours cranking out the 11.5 miles to the NOC where I got a room, finally showered, did my laundry, and devoured a pizza and burger all to myself.

Day 14 – NOC to Brown Fork Gap

First, let me start with “Wow”! That climb out of the NOC was a fun fun time. It just never seemed to end. Sunshine, Swiss Chris, the Scots, Ricky, and I all left that morning around 0700. Macaroni, Christmas Colors, and the Naturalist stayed behind at the NOC for a zero and drinking. The five of us all set out for Brown Fork Gap. I’ve done some hikes like Forester Pass, Kearsarge Pass, Mt. Whitney, The Tetons, and many more that are comparable to this heave out of the NOC to Cheoah Bald. I was met with a big slap to the face. But at least it did t hurt for that long with those views atop of Cheoah! Ricky and I were left in the dust and made it to Brown Fork and ended up getting drenched in the torrential downpour and inevitable soaking of our gear while setting up because many other thru-hikers crammed into the shelter and there was no other room. Somehow we lost the Scots, Sunshine, and Swiss Chris.

Day 15 – Brown Fork to Mile Marker 170

I awoke and Ricky was gone, I was soaked, and I packed up everything as fast as possible. I destroyed some pop tarts and snacks for breakfast and hit the trail at about 0630. I walked among the fog in the forest which was somehow peaceful though at times I couldn’t see but a foot in front of me. I was alone most of the day until I ran into an undesirable. Unfortunately, this put a damper on my day. Someone ended up assaulting me both physically and verbally all on assumptions of who I was as a person. This person had obviously been eavesdropping on conversations with my tramily. We had run into this person from here to there over the past week, but they always kept their distance. Unfortunately it culminated with them assaulting me. I did have the end say in my self-defense. I contacted everyone appropriately and informed the ATC once I had a signal down at Fontana. I did try to find happiness in the rest of the day with wildflowers and the scenes of the lake below. I made it to the Marina and got some chips, candy and a Fanta and soaked my legs in the lake. I caught a shuttle up to the village after getting some extra miles up to mile marker 166.6 because I had got to the marina around 10 and my check-in wasn’t until 4. I caught up to the front end of my tramily and we had a goodnight at the restaurant and exchanged stories by the pool that night!

Day 16 – Unfortunate Events

I woke up in the morning in my nice king sized suite at the Fontana Resort and went to go get breakfast with someone who walked in that morning and wanted to know if the resort was any good to hang at for a zero. While at breakfast the person who assaulted me showed up as well. I informed the staff that the person who they had just sat down was someone who attacked me and I asked them to either inform the authorities or have their security remove them because of their transgressions towards me the day prior. This individual hung out most of the day at the General Store at the resort. I figured that it would be best to take a double zero because they were on the same trajectory as me. However, I after this person got mad at me for even walking down the main street of Fontana and tried going at it again with me, I decided that on day 16 and day 12 of my trail time on the Appalachian Trail was coming to an end because no amount of threats, arguments, and other things that could transpire from the two of us being near each other on the trail together would be positive. I called a shuttle and bought a ticket for Salt Lake City to come back home to my wife and child until things calmed down for a little.


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Comments 3

  • Luna : May 22nd

    Man. I ve been hassled on trails before; but, what happened to you is horrible. I m so sorry. It also scared me pretty badly. I m an “older” female and the thought of someone being physically assaulted on the AT is very frightening, especially since it happened in the vicinity near where I live and enjoy hiking. Does this kind of thing happen often, nowadays? Anyway, Bear Magnet, I hope you ll hurry and return to the trail. Best of luck for next time.

    • Scott Hatfield : May 22nd

      I’m not going to lie it shook me a bit because I thought that there was a huge inclusivity push by the ATC but that wasn’t the case here. I do have a tell all coming out in a few days about the situation that may shed some light on the topic.
      I didn’t want to scare people like yourself but I just wanted to inform people that it’s out there. I know in Utah where I’m from that this kind of behavior is unheard of and trails are relatively safe. I thought because of the high traffic and publicity of the trail it wouldn’t happen. Especially to a big guy like myself.
      I hope that you can find some peace and stay out on trail in your area! I know this person was a thru hiker themself and likely way up the trail now.
      I will be out on the trail again heading SOBO on June 21! So Im still going to try and truck along as long as my body and finances will it!

      • Gerald Walker : May 23rd

        I am so sorry to hear of your troubles . Hope you can complete your hike . I just hate it when this type of thing happens .


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