Checkmate, Georgia

And my first 100 miles. I did it! One state down. For the record, it downpoured when I started Georgia, and it downpoured when I left it. Go figure. Bring on North Carolina!

nc - carter gap

I know I’ve been a little MIA. I crossed the state line on March 28. It kind of snuck up on me, actually. I was waiting for more of a descent before the border, and while I sang to myself (keeps bears away. and stuff) in the rain, I kept waiting and waiting for the presumed Gap and then a party. And all of a sudden I see this little wooden sign. Little wooden signs are our lives out here, so I figured it was some sort of mileage marker for how far I really was. It’s a simple little sign, and there are no external trumpets when you cross to the other side. But there certainly are internal ones! I was so stunned I didn’t entirely know what to do. I did cheer, and hopped across the “line” several times. I have completed one state!!!

Trail Shifts

The Trail can change in an instant. The day after Neel’s Gap, about halfway through our day, ACO left. It was definitely a harder day, more drizzle and mist. Didn’t help we misread the guide and thought we were further along than we actually were. We were making a good pace, but misread. At Tesnatee Gap, I went to pee and when I got back, ACO was ready to call for a ride. I kind of reeled – we’d been having a good time. The weather was certainly reminiscent of when we first got off, though. We were hoping to skip one shelter, since it was supposed to get very cold soon, and possibly get to a road near Hiawassee/Helen to wait out the snow. I asked her several times if she was sure. She definitely was sure she at least wanted to get off for a day. And all at once I was hiking alone. We didn’t talk overly much, but now I had no one. It’s lonely. She said she’d follow me along (online) and gave what must have been difficult encouragement at the time: “You got this.”

Little Bavaria

I took my sweet time getting out of Georgia, I know. But it got coooold for several days, and I took several neros in a wonderful little town called Helen. Helen is fascinating. Like a mini Georgia version of Bavaria. Everything, even the architecture, is “German.” Very weird. Random shops, funnel cakes. Touristy, strangely.

Two nights I ate on Munich Strasse; the other on Edelweiss Strasse (Street)

Two nights I ate on Munich Strasse; the other on Edelweiss Strasse (Street)

It’s near Hiawassee, but since I’d planned on being there in a couple of days, I figured I’d try a different town. I loved it. I stayed three nights, ate the most heavenly German food, and after my morning hikes, lounged in my hotel room watching this strange box called a TV. Actually, one day was a planned slackpack, which was pretty glorious. I did about 3 miles that day, and got a ride back out. The next day, I planned on doing 10.5 miles, so had checked out and packed up, and got my ride. And started.

Dirt frost looks fascinating

Dirt frost looks fascinating

And within 30 minutes, my water was totally frozen, and the tube (straw, I guess) was useless. No water is not a fantastic way to start the day. So I got almost 2 miles, crossed my last possible road into any sort of civilization for a few days, watched a pickup truck pull in, and got a little ways back into the woods before throwing my pack down and calling my mom for a weather report. Luckily I got signal, and after debating with her about the cold and price of a ride back up the shitty forest road, ran back down the trail to the road where, thankfully, the pickup was still waiting. A wife dropping her husband off for a section hike. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod so she gave me a ride down the mountain, and asked for nothing in return. People.

Journal: North Carolina

Made it! I am now officially in North Carolina. No more Georgia for this girl! It did rain all day, but dammit I did it! My body is killing me, though. Did 11.8 miles today. The motivation? A shelter. Regardless, it was brutal. I’m not resupplying until the NOC, so I have 6 days of food with me. Ugh. May rethink this strategy.

The Blueberry Patch was lovely, if the hikers that night were an embodiment of the word “snorchestra.” In the morning, at long last, I packed and organized most of my things. I was just one of two who were planning to hike today, so everyone else slept nearly til the breakfast bell. Wow. True to the trailtalk, breakfast was incredible.

Gary and his wife Lennie are great. Pancakes with their special blueberry syrup, eggs, sausage, biscuits, OJ, tea/coffee. I ate a lot, and made an Instant Breakfast with real milk. Fancy 😉 I asked for details on what to do in a thunderstorm, since we’re supposed to get some tomorrow, then finished getting ready. At a little after 9:30, Gary drove Thorne and I back to the trailhead at Dick’s Creek Gap. And so our day of unending wet began. Tough start, but I eventually hit my stride, absurdly weighted backpack and all. I arrived at Plumorchard Gap Shelter around 12:15 and left around 12:45, passing Thorne on his way in. We debated getting to Bly Gap – to camp – just past the GA/NC border! – but with the incessant rain, the Muskrat Creek Shelter was sounding more and more tempting. After some brutal “SPUDS,” I very suddenly came across the GA/NC sign. Hah! I’d done it! It stunned me, actually; I’d expected something a little different. All of a sudden, there it was. It was 3:30. At even a mile an hour, I could make it to the shelter before dark. Trouble was, there were these 2 nasty tops in my way.

Actual guidebook

Actual guidebook

It took all remaining energy I had. Some singing (“Singin’ in the Rain,” thanks Camp Nokomis!). Then down into Sassafras Gap and over another hill. I was moving so slowly. Absurdly. Everything hurt. But at 5:30, I stumbled in, shoulders killing, and managed to snag the only – squeezed – remaining space in the shelter. To my knowledge, Thorne hasn’t shown up yet (7:45pm). Not sure if he will.

Thinking of doing just 4.5-5 miles tomorrow – as part of my original plan to get to Standing Indian Shelter tomorrow. My body is hating me! I did put my first bear bag up on my own – tomorrow will tell if I was successful!

Damn the psycho who came up with the last 3 miles of Trail. Welcome to North Carolina.

– Ent


  • ACO is back on the Trail, section hiking instead.
  • Thorne did make it to Muskrat Creek that night – around 8:30pm! And so far my bearbagging has been a success.
  • I made up SPUDS because it’s a more entertaining word than PUDS and because I’m in the South. And because: “stupid pointless ups and downs.” Or depending on your outlook that day, “seemingly pointless ups and downs.” Perhaps those should be reversed…

Some pictures of the total beauty here:


Rhododendron tunnels

Rhododendron tunnels

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