Amicalola Falls to Rock Gap
I’m having a blast on the AT and this is definitely the place I’m supposed to be right now. I’m currently taking my first zero at Gooder Grove Hostel in Franklin, North Carolina. I hitched into town yesterday from Rock Gap, having completed the first 106 miles of the trail.
Day 1: Amicalola Falls to Hawk Mountain Campsite
I climbed the infamous stairs and really enjoyed the falls. As I climbed up to Springer, fog surrounded me and rain began to fall. On top of the mountain I couldn’t see much, but I spent a few moments on the summit before starting past the first white blaze. As I came into Stover Creek Shelter, the sun popped out and I couldn’t help but get back on the trail and push for Hawk Mountain Campsite before dark. It stormed on my first night, but my tent kept me dry and I slept surprisingly well considering there was thunder and lightning.
Day 2: Hawk Mountain Campsite to Big Cedar Mountain
I started down the trail and filtered water at the first spring I came to. As I progressed down the trail, I came upon Gooch Mountain Shelter too early to stop hiking and it was pretty crowded anyways. I pushed past Woody Gap where I met Scuba Steve. Fate would have us meet again on the trail and we have spent a few days hiking together, but that night I climbed Big Cedar Mountain and took advantage of the calm weather and scenic campsite at higher elevation.
Day 3: Big Cedar Mountain to Bull Gap
I climbed the notorious Blood Mountain rather enjoyably but experienced some unexpected knee pain on the descent. I have had ACL reconstructive surgery on both of my knees, and anticipated that they might give me trouble. I picked up two knee braces in Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap and pushed on another mile with Scuba Steve.
Day 4: Bull Gap to Poplar Stamp Gap
I decided to take a slower pace and my knees were grateful and feeling better already. I particularly enjoyed Wildcat Mountain and the view was amazing so I stopped for lunch on a rock at a scenic spot. Scuba Steve and I made camp at Poplar Stamp Gap and we were soon joined by a pair of sisters from Wisconsin that are hiking together. We started a campfire to deter the particularly annoying bugs and cooked dinner before turning in early.
Day 5: Poplar Stamp Gap to Tray Mountain Shelter
I learned that I have no interest in sleeping in shelters. I love the space in my tent and if I were to sleep in a shelter I would be worried about waking other people up. I also learned that I prefer campsites because there is a high concentration of hikers at shelters.
Day 6: Tray Mountain Shelter to Dick’s Creek Gap
I came into Dick’s Creek Gap and got a ride from another hiker down the road to Top of Georgia Hostel. I saw some familiar faces and was able to get a shower and have my laundry done. I went into town and attacked the buffet before getting food for my resupply. Back at the hostel I baked a pizza and enjoyed a night sleeping in a bunk in the wolfden, the hostel’s designated bunk room for hikers with dogs. The dogs were friendly and good company during my stay. In the morning we were fed muffins and coffee. I went ahead and purchased/printed my hiking permit for the Smoky’s.
Day 7: Dick’s Creek Gap to Muskrat Creek Shelter
I took off on the trail with Scuba Steve and we crossed into North Carolina. It got cold and windy as we climbed in elevation. We were glad to get out of the wind after dropping into the gap and I built a fire to stay warm while we cooked dinner.
Day 8: Muskrat Creek Shelter to Carter Gap Shelter
I must not have slept well because I was particularly tired and slow. I followed behind Scuba Steve and he was slow as well because of a sore knee. We hobbled into the shelter and made our dinners before turning in early.
Day 9: Carter Gap Shelter to Rock Gap
I hiked on my own and really enjoyed the day. I quickly came upon trail magic just past Mooney Gap from a wonderful family that gave me a toasted egg and sausage sandwich, hash browns, Powerade, a banana, and even a Hershey bar. It was incredible and absolutely made my day. I hiked into Rock Gap as some hikers I had camped with were getting a ride into Franklin. I took advantage of the opportunity and was very grateful to get a ride to the hostel.
Day 10: Gooder Grove Hostel
This morning I went with a bunch of hikers to the local First Baptist Church for a free breakfast of unlimited pancakes and bacon. It was incredible and the folks there were so nice and generous to all the hikers. I was amazed to find out that they serve breakfast daily this time of the year. After breakfast, I successfully swapped my trail shoes at Outdoor 76 for the most recent model without costing me a dime because they were within warranty and starting to fall apart already. One of the dogs at the hostel has been graciously keeping my bed warm for me.
Tomorrow I’m starting back at Rock Gap and seeing how my legs feel after my first zero day.
Stay tuned for more updates and watch the video of my first ten days below!:
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