Day 13: The Act of Being a Mountain Goat

The forecast called for temperatures in the mid-twenties that morning. Because Pete and I were hovering about 2,000 feet above the nearest town, we figured it’d be in the high teens/low twenties. It actually wasn’t that cold – at least, compared to yesterday. I was warm in my bag and none of the water I left sitting out was frozen. It was significantly better than the night prior.

Pete started moving at 7:00 and I reluctantly got up. I was finally starting to sleep well by 5:30 and didn’t want to move. The thought that I would have a nice lunch in town was motivation enough.

Mountain Goating it to Albert Mountain

Just a small section of this steep trail.

We both sat down for breakfast and Pete asked me what the elevation looked like for the day. I said, “It appears to be relatively easy except for the climb up to the Albert Mountain fire tower. We’ll be mountain goating it.” I’m not sure if Pete processed what I said, but when we got to the base, it really started sinking in. It was almost 500 feet in elevation gain in under a quarter mile. As Pete put it, “The hike up was a cross between climbing stairs and climbing a ladder.”

By the time we made it to the top, all the pain of getting there and joking that a sadist designed this section, was worth it. The view was amazing. It was a little smokey, but we could see for miles.

The view from Albert Mountain.

The Fire Tower and Mile Marker 100

Albert Mountain fire tower. It was last used in the 1950s.

The tower marked mile 99.9 of the Appalachian Trail and as we headed down from the amazing view, I passed not one, not two, but three little stone and stick monuments for reaching one hundred miles. It was a great day.

On the way down, I really started getting into a good stride. I was getting close to hiking at almost four miles an hour. My legs still have room for improvement (especially steep uphill’s), but my trail legs are starting to come in.

Long Branch Shelter

I outpaced Pete, but we both got to Long Branch Shelter to meet up with Sideways, Pete’s hiking partner. I said I was stopping at Rock Gap to get a ride into Franklin and both Pete and Sideways decided they would do the same. Grace, who I thought was behind us, was at the shelter. Somehow, she passed both Pete and I the day previously with none of us knowing. She found my handkerchief, which I thought I’d lost, and I told her that she shouldn’t have touched it. It was gross.

I left the shelter at around 10:00. I wanted to get to Rock Gap before the 12:00 shuttle provided by the town of Franklin arrived and got there at around 11:15. Neglecting the climb up Albert Mountain, I hiked six miles in roughly two hours. It was a new milestone for me.

A Ride to Town

Lightning, a new shuttle driver and hostel owner, was there to provide hikers a ride into town. His rate was $15 per person and I couldn’t justify the price, so I said no. When everyone arrived, Lightning offered $10 per person. The others were okay with the price, so I accepted. 

After a very speedy ride winding through mountain passes, we arrived in Franklin. Lightning dropped me off at The Grove Hostel and Pete and Sideways were headed to a nearby hotel.

Exploring Franklin

The owners, Unfiltered and Newfound (previous AT thru-hikers), showed me around and I quickly dumped my stuff on the bed I would claim for the next two nights. It was shower time! I was filthy and felt so much better afterwards.

I called my family, saying I made it safely to town, and walked the half a mile to downtown Franklin. I picked a place to eat lunch called Gracious Plates on Main and was so happy when my food arrived quickly. It was the best sandwich I’ve had in a while. With homemade focaccia bread, melted brie, local turkey, salad greens and a fig jam, I was in heaven. I got an alcoholic drink too, but it couldn’t compare to the sandwich.

I was ready to head back and fall asleep, but I decided to explore some of the shops. I got a variety of stickers because I’m an addict and stopped to sit on a nearby bench. Behind me was a large board for thru-hikers to sign. I signed as Captain Blogger. 

Thru-Hiking Groupies?

After a few minutes, I noticed Sweet Relish being followed by a group of older ladies who, in their own words, said that they were groupies. I said hello and was caught in a one-sided conversation of how cool it is to be doing this. I agreed. 

By 2:00, I headed back to the hostel and began cleaning out my filthy food bag. Into the washer that goes. 4:00 came around quickly and Newfound gave me a ride to the post office to pick up my resupply package. We headed back to the hostel.

A Night Out

A group of hikers were planning on going out to dinner and I was invited. Unfiltered and Newfound were going too, so they gave us a ride to the restaurant. Where did we go? The same place I went to lunch. Despite it being pricy for dinner, it was worth it. I had pork tenderloin with sautéed asparagus, and goat cheese mashed potatoes. I even got one of their massive strawberry short cakes. I was full after that.

The conversation was great too. Ladybug discussed how hard it was to hike solo, but wanted to stay in a group – the exact feelings I’ve been having. We are constantly told ‘hike your own hike,’ but trying to figure out what exactly your hike is, is tough. Especially at the beginning. 

From left to right: Newfound, Unfiltered, Hay Baby Mamma, Ladybug, and me. Photograph credit: Sparrow.

Newfound also said that the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) gives you views, so you aren’t as stuck in your head compared to the Appalachian Trail – where you can’t gawk and hike without stumbling. She then said that the AT is a trail that works on the mental side of things. More so than the others. That really made an impact on me.


A view of one of the areas in The Grove Hostel.

We headed back to the hostel and I once again, cleaned out my pack to reorganize. The hiking community is all about Ziplock bags because they’re lightweight and durable. I don’t know why people say they are durable because I constantly have to replace mine due to them getting rips or they stop sealing. I need to get actual dry bags so I stop buying plastic, but it can get so pricey for the ones I want.

As the night wrapped up, I mentioned that my Achilles tendon and knees were hurting and Sparrow, a physical therapist, suggested a variety of stretches and ways to help with the pain. It really is cool the people you met and how we all help each other out when one is in need. Sparrow was helping everyone at the hostel, actually.

I took another shower and dressed in a fleece lined onesie. It was a look for sure. I was about to clear off my bed to sleep when Ladybug asked if I wanted to do an Epsom salt bath for the feet. I gave an enthusiastic yes and got everything ready for the both of us. The day ended with my feet soaking and laying on the couch. It really was a good day.

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.

Comments 2

  • David O. : Mar 22nd

    Great hiking and great blogging. Thanks, Morgan 🙏

  • Doublepack : Mar 22nd

    Have really enjoyed your posts-telling it like it is and learning as you go. Best of luck as you continue North to Katahdin!!


What Do You Think?