Carolina On My Mind
We are writing this from Franklin, North Carolina. After spending five days walking through rain, surviving hurricane force winds, and showing off a lack of rock climbing skills; all while loving every minute of it, we decided to prop our feet up for a day.
After leaving Dicks Creek Gap (Hiawassee, GA) on a rainy Monday morning we took a short 4.4 mile hike to Plumborchard Gap Shelter. Not wanting to do a Three Stooges skit of putting up a tent in the rain, we elected to spend the night at the shelter. We arrived to the sounds of smooth jazz music being provided by DragonBall (or DragginBall, depending on the day). Something to remember here is that he had to pack that device all the way from Springer Mountain. While it would not have made our list of things to carry, we were very much appreciative that it did his. It felt as if we were checking into a spa. However, one of the other guest decided that they really wanted what was in Yolo’s fanny pack, which by the way StepDan, she wears in the front.
Time does not matter much on the trail. We get up when we want to, and call it a day when we want to. While we do have distance goals we would like to accomplish, we are happy to report, that as of yet, the world has not stopped spinning when we don’t meet them. Slowly we made our way to the Georgia/North Carolina state line. There are many trail adages about the Appalachian Trail. One such adage is, “Georgia prepares you for North Carolina.” To which we, after we climbed out of Bly Gap, retorted that we must need remediation, as nothing short of an Everest summit could have prepared us for that.
Of course Yolo, the camera person on this adventure could not resist having our picture taken at the AT famous Bly Gap Tree.
After planting the mental flag on top of whatever seemingly unnamed mountain that was, we made it to Muskrat Creek Shelter where we set up the tents and slept among the Rhododendrons.
After breaking down camp, discussing what our next goal should be, and checking the weather for where we will end up, we realized that we could make that day a short mileage day, we could walk four miles to Standing Indian Mountain Shelter and climb Standing Indian the next day, or we could just press on and camp at the top of Standing Indian Mountain. Here is where another trail adage comes up. This one is ‘The Trail Provides’ we will add ‘Sometimes it is a lesson’. After much debate about temperatures falling 3.5 degrees for every 1000 ft of elevation vs. Yolo’s wanting to spend the night on the summit of Standing Indian and with the FarOut app, showing there was water at the top of Standing Indian,we pressed on with about a liter of water to the top of Standing Indian where there was no water to be found. There was, however, an outstanding view. Lesson: Unless you are 110 percent sure of the weather, do not sleep on the summit of a mountain.
Opting to save the water for morning coffee, we pitch the tents and have bread and water for dinner.
What happens next can only be seen in a Big Agnes tent wind and water test video. You may remember from a previous post the ‘It’. ‘It’ the sequel unleashes. We were awaken to tornado like winds and something that sounded like golf balls hitting the sides of the tent, all that with the temperatures dropping to near freezing. We survived. After being awake for an hour with it still raining outside, we decided that regardless of the rain, at 0915 we were going to start breaking down camp. Never in the albeit short history of us doing this has a campsite been broken down so fast. We were up/out and on the trail noticing hmmm, this looks like a bunch of knocked down trees.
News has an interesting way of propagating on the trail. Not the news that Fox or CNN is showing, but the news that is of importance to hikers. So as we were headed down the trail, we were met by two hikers headed up trail. We played trail tag with these guys for over a day so we recognized them. They were at the summit with us and had opted out of staying at the summit and hike an additional three miles to water. We were almost about to say ‘Your headed the wrong way’ (Yes, it happens) when they tell us that bears got there food the previous night. So while we were enduring It Part II, they were having there food stolen. It was then that we started noticing, or should we say paying more attention to these signs.
We press on pass the Great Bear Food Heist area and make it to Carter Gap Shelter. Not liking Shelters that much we find a nice tent place and start setting up home for the night. We had never seen so many tents at any shelter at any one time. Everyone that was going to stay at Beech Gap, scene of the Yogi the Bear heist, along with all of us whose goal was Carter Gap was there. It was pretty much a town. We set up and are soon joined by three ladies in the area next to us. They had a dog. Anyone who has been around Yolo for a nanosecond knows that if she sees any animal she goes bananas. One of these ladies had a dog, Luna and of course Yolo goes bananas.
Its amazing how fast you can get to know someone on the trail. Between camping next to them and playing trail tag with them all the next day, we shared a lot of stories and developed a trail kinship with them. One of the ladies is doing an Instagram page on trail names and there origination. The Instagram page is trailnametales if you are curious. This same lady is a partial recipient of an El Chapo scholarship for hiking the same as another hike Trailhead Justin that we follow. We say our goodbyes to these amazing ladies, as we never know for sure that with as slow as we are, that we will ever see these folks again and set off.
Our original plan was to stop at the base of Albert Mountain and then climb it the next day. Trail stories indicated that this was a beast. As one section hike told us, “If you make it over Albert, you got the AT.”
In another moment of after looking back at it and asking what were we thinking we decided to climb it. How hard could it be? Answer, Very, Very, Very.
We made it and in doing so completed another milestone, 100 miles walking the AT.
Now all we have to do is that 22 more times. And we will.
At this point we were exhausted. We staggered into Long Branch Shelter set up tents and went to bed. No dinner, no nothing, just sleep. We both had the best nights sleep we have had on trail. Yolo did manage a picture of the sunset before she fell asleep.
Next morning we are inspired by being so close to Franklin NC and visions of an Ingles Salad bar that we pretty much sprinted down to Winding Stair Gap. We covered the 7.2 miles in five and a half hours. A land speed record for us.
We were meet at Winding Stair Gap by a trail legend, Bobby the Greek who ushered us into his truck and dropped us off at Ingles for a salad bar. Side story: While climbing down some mountain we happened upon a young lady sitting beside the trail looking real dejected. So of course we stop and talk with her, she had rolled her ankle the day before and just kept hiking until she could hike no more. Her ankle was now the size of a softball and she could not walk.
We realized the situation was under control as another hiker was taking her pack down the mountain and was going to come back and help her down. After insuring there was nothing we could do, no water, food or anything we could give we continue on.
We stop at the bottom of the gap for lunch and as we are backing up see one of the most amazing things this writer has ever seen. This lady being piggy backed down the mountain over a mile as best I can remember by the same hiker who had slackpacked her. Ends up she was put in Bobby the Greeks truck and is now recovering at Hilltop Inn. God Speed unknown hiker lady.
We are now at a Comfort Inn in Franklin, North Carolina, doing our in-town trail chores, eating, and relaxing. There will be cake as it is Yolo’s belly button birthday. Us people in recovery count two birthdays. One a sobriety birthday and the other a bellybutton birthday.
As far as future plans, we are going to take advantage of slackpack with Bobby the Greek as its going to be raining for the next few days and nights. Then we will load up on food for a four or five day stint off grid. This will put us either at Fontana Dam NC or very close to it.
- Not a flat tent spot, makes for an uncomfortable nights sleep.
- Stunning views.
- Morning Coffee.
- Ingles Salad.
- Cozy Sleeping Bags.
- Dollar Store Princess Pillows.
- Hiker Community is rocking our world.
Again we would like to thank you for reading these posts. Just knowing they are being read is encouraging.
Until next Yolo and Santa out.
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