AT Update days 10-13: 100 miles!!!

Day 10:

Zero day today, and boy oh boy am I glad we did this. It is cold, rainy, and all together miserable, so not being out in the woods is incredibly pleasant. Our rooms door blew open at like 2am last night, but other than that it was a really good nights sleep. We had breakfast at 7:30, which was a nice sleep in compared to the past few days. And the waffles were DELICIOUS. At around 10 we hopped into a totally not suspicious white van and drive into Clayton, GA.

Clayton is a really pretty little town which is insanely open to hikers. They will help with literally anything and everything. 10/10 would recommend if you’re in the area. Our first stop was an outdoor stoor called Outdoor 76, and they got us all geared up for the next legs of our trip. We also took a walk over to the super market to grab some food for the next 4 days, where there’s gonna be basically nothing except us and the woods. Gotta get our miles in somehow. We also grabbed some Chikfila, which was amazing after 8 days of dehydrated trail food.

At around 3:30, we all crammed back in the van and headed back to the hostel. We had a pretty chill tear of the night, we just hung out and chatted. Got to catch up with some friends and family, so that was super nice. Overall, this has been a really nice break, but I’m excited to get back out. Back on the road tomorrow!

Quote of the day: “Guys it’s only nerve damage!”

How many owls would you have to see before you got suspicious?: “Well today feels kind of like a 12 owl day.”

Day 11:

Back on the trail after our break today. We woke up at 7, in time to eat a couple hot

waffles at the hostel before about 9 of us piled into a van made for 6 and sped (and I mean SPED) half a mile to the trail. Lindsey, Emma, Carmen and I all started the morning together, and we would be together a good chunk of the day. The morning was cool, and definitely wet from yesterday, but it made the forest seem very lush and lively. We walked most of the morning surrounded by mist, which gave a spooky, but weirdly comforting vibe. We decided today that we were gonna walk very slowly, as a lot of us had been fighting various foot and ankle issues. So, we got going. And it was beautiful. This was probably our best day in terms of weather that we’ve had so far. It was warm, and the forest was green.

It was a slow steady climb in the morning, not too steep, so we all got through it pretty easily. On the way down, we broke below the mist that we had been walking through all morning, into bright sunshine. It was then that it got pretty hot, and I think this is the first time so far that I’ve hiked in shorts. Me and Lindsey had gotten a little ways ahead of the others, so we stopped for a mid morning snack to wait for everyone to catch up. Once we were all together again, we started the much longer, slightly steeper climb that would take up our afternoon. Again, Lindsey and I got a little over excited and pushed out in front of the others. So much for going slow. At a certain point, we realized we were only a mile from the Georgia/North Carolina border, and we decided we could simply not cross without our friends, so we stopped and had lunch for a while. I finally got Lindsey to touch a frisbee for the first time on this trip, so that was fun. After about 20 minutes we started to get a little worried, but they had just also stopped for lunch, and caught up with us about 5 minutes later. And with that, it was time to cross out of our first state!

GA/NC Border!

Crossing the border was a really really cool milestone to hit. Even though Georgia was a relatively short state, the idea that we WALKED literally out of one state into another was kind of crazy to wrap our heads around. We’re in North Carolina now! Exciting!!! But with that comes some challenges. We’re now in what’s called the 40 mile wilderness, which is our first long chunk of time away from towns/road crossings. That’ll be interesting for sure, a good test for us so far. Here’s the problem though. There’s been a ton of bear activity in this part of NC, including them breaking into bear cans and cutting down PCT hangs. So we’re all a little worried we’re gonna lose our food. It was a big chunk of our conversation around camp. But we lucked out for tonight. Grit ended up making it to our campsite (which I’m pretty sure was like a 16 mile hike for him today, which is nuts), and he brought Dizzy (a big ole german shepard) with him. So I think we’re all feeling a little better about the bears, at least for tonight. And fingers crossed it also won’t be freezing, so maybe a good night of sleep (fingers crossed).

A cool tree we found

Today was a weird day for me. It was a beautiful day, we were in amazing green forests, and physically I felt great. But mentally, I just felt really really shitty. And what’s more annoying is I have NO idea why. From the get go I just felt off. I was feeling really irritated with pretty much everyone, and I had to try very hard to not let that out at them. I spent a lot of time hiking quietly by myself, but I just couldn’t get away from it today. It was just kinda stewing all day. I’ve felt a little better since dinner but still not great. I’m gonna go to sleep and hope that tomorrows better.

Quote of the day: “This is an ooga booga brain activity.”

I didn’t ask anyone the owl question today. Was very much not in the mood to talk to anyone, let alone strangers. But I am actively hearing an owl while writing this, believe it or not. Suspicious 🤨

Day 12:

They say North Carolina is a different animal than Georgia. I don’t know who “they” is, but “they” is right. First things first; our food made it through the night. Great start to the day! We had a hot breakfast. 2 for 2! Aaaaaaaaand then we started a climb that was basically straight up for 2.5 miles. There were steps, occasionally, but they were about waist height for lindsey, and about mid thigh for me. Not super helpful, and very tiring. Not a single switchback to be seen. We are truly in the mountains now. This is basically how we spent the entire morning. We decided to go a little slower today, so the climb took a little while. But once we got up onto the ridge line, it was relatively easy.

Our view from the top of the ridge line

We had decided that we were going to do about 12 miles today, but at a slower pace, so that would get to camp a little later in the day. We had noticed that when we got to camp at 1:30, it was a little bit boring. So, slower pace, longer walk, less time at camp, and more time to appreciate what we were walking through. It was just me and Lindsey for pretty much all the day. Emma and Meg were only going 8 miles today, so they stayed at camp a little later than us. Carmen had gone earlier, but we caught up with her at a shelter about 4 miles up the road.

Someone got fired for this

In the early afternoon, we started another long climb. This one a little less steep than the morning, but a looooot longer. It was kinda difficult to not just drift off into thought and not pay attention to what was around us. Between the physical difficulty, and how brown and grey the forest is now, I kinda just put my head down and climbed. Maybe not the best thing to do, but it’s hard to stay focused all day every day. And believe me, once we got up onto the second ridge, I was paying attention. It was GORGEOUS up there. On both sides, mountains rolled away forever, line after line, each getting taller. It was absolutely stunning, and we were walking up along that ridge line for about 3 hours. This is where it really started to feel like we were in the mountains.

A little after lunch, we had our big excitement for the day. We were filing our waters at a little stream, when all of a sudden we heard a super loud rustling noise in the bushes up ahead of us. Oh boy, here we go. We are DEEP in bear country at this point. We had, not 10 minutes before, heard a story about how 2 bears had spent the night literally harassing a campsite to steal food. So we are freaking out. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what it was, but I am about 95% confident we were about 5 feet away from a black bear cub. You may be asking yourself “why is there just one cub? Where’s mama?” Well, we were NOT gonna stick around to find out. We hiked pretty quickly after that, talking as loud as we could to let any bears know we were there. At one point a leaf hurricane appeared behind us and we jumped probably 9 feet in the air.

Safe to say, we were sketched out, and hustled to make it to camp. We ended up getting there around 3, enough time to setup tents, lay down, and stretch a little bit before dinner. Carmen ended up rolling into camp about 20 minutes after us, so it was nice to have someone else we knew here for the night. Also, Grit caught up to us, so we’ve got another night of Dizzy, and hopefully another night of bear protection. Fingers crossed.

Bear can stash for the night

Today was definitely a better day, but still not perfect. I feel like I’m zoning out a lot out here. I know that that’s pretty normal. I can’t be present 24/7, and it’s especially difficult when the thing I’m doing is kinda repetitive (as beautiful as that repetitiveness is). I’m trying very hard to be patient with myself, but it’s hard not to feel frustrated, like I should be appreciating what I’m doing more. I hope that the patience will come with time. Or maybe this is the type of thing you can’t really appreciate it until afterwards. I guess I’ll find out. Also, our group has begun to split up a little bit. Betsy is now probably 2 or 3 days ahead of us. Emma needs to go slower for a while, so she’s still a few miles behind. It’s a weird, kinda lonely feeling. I mean it’s not just me, but it’s fewer people than usual. It’s weird how much impact people can have on you in such a short time. I hope we manage to come back together again.

Quote of the day: “Do you think the bear would get offended if I fed it bear grahams?”

No owl question again today. Seeing fewer and fewer new faces. Hopeful for tomorrow.

Day 13:

Today was an insane day. First things first, we decided to hit the road early. Up at 7, on the trail by 8. Lindsey always manages to get up a little before me, so by the time I got up she was already mostly packed. The plan for breakfast was just to grab a granola bar and eat on the road. Here’s the thing, the bear canisters we got have these little tabs you need to push down to open them up. Turns out, when you leave plastic outside in the cold weather, it gets stiff and really hard to push. So, we could not open our bear canisters to get breakfast. I gave mine about 3 tries and gave up, but Lindsey spent about 20 minutes (enough time for me to wake up, deconstruct my tent, and fully pack) struggling with hers. It was really really funny to watch.

Lindsey struggling under a log

We decided to hit the road before breakfast, hoping that the canisters would warm up in our packs and we could open them later. The trail today, especially in the morning, looked like an American Ninja Warrior course. Logs down in the trail, rocks to scramble over, streams to walk across, roots that we kept tripping on, it was crazy. At one point there was a log that was about waist height, so we had the choice of over or under. I went over, but Lindsey tried to go under, and fell over because of her pack. Absolutely hilarious. Great way to start the day. We had to pause for breakfast after that one to recover.

The trail was mostly flat today, up until after lunch. We were at about mile 99.5, so getting very excited to hit our first big milestone. At mile 100, there’s an old fire tower that you can climb up and look around. It’s pretty cool. But the approach to mile 100 can’t be EASY, why would it be??? For the last half mile before the tower, we climbed. At the flatted parts, we were walking up a 45 degree angle. At the steepest, we were essentially climbing up a ladder. It was quite the challenging, and we took a nice long rest at the tower. But we made it! 100 miles down, 2,097.4 to go! And we got to climb most of the way up the fire tower. The top is locked but it’s a really cool view regardless.

View from the top of Albert Mountain

It was here where we had a big time logistical issue. Our next food drop was scheduled for the next day, at a camp group about 1.5 miles off the trail. Our plan had been to stay at a shelter 3 miles back of the road, hike to grab the boxes in the morning, and get back in the trail in the afternoon. It was gonna be a lighter day, but a good one. Only one problem: Lindsey’s box didn’t get delivered to the camp ground. So she has to go all the way into town to buy enough food to make it to our next resupply, about 4 days away.

Getting into town is a lot more difficult than getting to the campground, as we either have to be at the road in time to catch a shuttle, or hitchhike into town. And getting back was also difficult, as we would have at least 5 miles to go before our next campsite. It looked like we may need to take a zero day in town, which was certainly not ideal, as we zerod 4 days ago and had been planning to again in another 4ish days. We spent the rest of our walk debating a bunch of different plans and ideas about how to get this resupply done.

We got to our planned campsite for the night, 12 miles from where we started and 3 miles from the road we needed to be at. It was here that we decided it made more sense to push on to the shelter that was right next to the road, and find a way to the campsite and into town early the next day. So, 15 miles. Way more than we had done in a day before, but we didn’t have much of a choice. We pushed forward, and let me tell you those last 3 miles were probably the longest 3 we’ve had so far. We were tired, our feet hurt, and we were hungry. But we kept pushing. About an hour and a half later, we got to the next shelter.

We were beat, but getting to the next shelter was absolutely worth it, for a few reasons. First, it made our morning a lot easier. Second, we found that a whole bunch of our friends were also staying at this shelter! Dave, Will, Edison, Bun (Cynthia), even Heimlich (Monica), who we hadn’t seen in about 10 days. It was an awesome little reunion. Plus, Bun has to hop off trail tomorrow (boooooo, lame), but she offered to give us a ride into town (yaaaaaay, not lame!), so that also made our day way way easier. We had a good fire, good friends, and a good plan. Almost enough to forget how much our legs hurt from the day. Almost.

I felt a lot better today. First of all, it was beautiful out, if a little cold in the morning. But it warmed up quickly, and we were walking mostly down in valleys between mountains, so the forests were lush and green. Physically it was definitely a challenge but mentally I feel pretty much back to normal, and that’s a really nice feeling. It made it hard for anything to put a damper on the rest of the day. My hip is starting to hurt a little bit, but I don’t think it’s anything too serious. Gonna keep and eye on it though.

Quote of the day: “Fuckin whole pack of velveta for me”

How many owls would you have to see before you got suspicious?: “If I saw an owl sitting in the middle of the path, I’d be suspicious.” “Wouldn’t you think it’s hurt?” “Yeah, and that’s suspicious!”


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?