Day 6-10 Update: Helen to Wesser Bald

Back with another update from the trail. Crossing the GA/NC border, the 100-mile marker and more!

Day 6

Hiking from: Unicoi Gap

To: Deep Gap Shelter

Miles: 13.4

Total grade: 594.4 ft/mile

Motivation: Didn’t have one other than eat dinner and stop hiking.

Favorite part of the day: reaching camp

Comments: the ups and downs killed me today. It was shorter mileage but with at least 3 peaks to climb and grueling downhills. The scenery also wasn’t very special. Made the day pass slower. Glad this day is over.

The majority of the scenery on day 6

Day 7

Hiking from: Deep Gap Shelter

To: Sassafras Gap

Miles: 14.7

Total grade: 574.0 ft/mile

Motivation: Cross the GA/NC border!

Favorite part of the day: Reaching the border and having a soda at Around The Bend hostel.

Comments: The morning was easy enough climbing down to Dicks Creek Gap. We ran into an AT ambassador on our way down that convinced us to walk .5 miles down the road to Around the Bend hostel to resupply because there wouldn’t be another chance for 40 miles or so. We took his advice and ended up staying at Around the Bend resupplying, having lunch, and chatting with some other hikers for two hours. On a 14+ mile day, this set us back a bit but we didn’t mind because it was such a nice treat. One of the hostel workers shuttled us back to the trail, at no charge, and we went on our way. Knowing the border into North Carolina was just around the corner was a great motivator, but Georgia definitely tries to kick your butt one last time with the elevation gain out of nowhere. While we originally wanted to stay at muskrat shelter, we opted for a tent site just .8 before it as the sun was setting. All and all, no regrets about the delay.

Around the Bend’s Van

Day 8

Hiking from: Sassafras Gap

To: Betty Creek Gap

Miles: 17.2

Total grade: 363.7 ft/mile

Motivation: have a good 17-mile day

Favorite part of the day: Cruised up Standing Indian Mountain switchbacks in the morning then it was all flat or downhill the rest of the day with great views

Comments: There was really only one thing standing in the way of reaching Franklin, NC (the next town where a hot shower and restaurant food were waiting for me) and it was the climb up Standing Indian Mountain. I also started listening to music this day which was a huge game-changer. All the other days I’d been…just thinking. The only thing I had downloaded was Taylor Swift, but she did the job. The campsite we stayed at was beautiful too. It was almost like a tropical oasis away from all the grey pre-spring trees and dead leaves with big green bushes, moss, and a nearby creek. It was a great way to end the day.

Campsite at Betty Creek

Day 9

Hiking from: Betty Creek Gap

To: Winding Stair Gap

Miles: 12.2

Total grade: 435.7 ft/mile

Motivation: Reaching the 100-mile mark and get to winding stair gap at a reasonable hour so I can enjoy Franklin as much as possible.

Favorite part of the day: Margarita and a big fat veggie burrito in Franklin.

Comments: The elevation for this day wasn’t horrible and after completing a few 14+ days in a row, 12 miles felt like a reward. It also helped that the 100-mile mark was within the first 3 miles of the day. We reached the tower, took pictures, and then raced down the rest of the trail so we could meet the shuttle driver to our hostel at 2:30. This left enough time for us to shower, do laundry, and be shuttled into Franklin for margaritas and burritos (& resupply). We stayed at Onward Hostel which opened less than a month ago and I really enjoyed it. I also met three nurses from Portland, Maine (where I’m from) which was a funny coincidence.

Me after hiking 100 miles ?‍?

Day 10

Hiking from: Winding Stair Gap

To: Wesser Bald Shelter

Miles: 21.6

Total grade: 494.2 ft/mile

Motivation: Biggest day yet

Favorite part of the day: Pancakes in Franklin

Comments: At Onward Hostel, if you wake up at 7:15, you can catch the shuttle to Franklin’s First Baptist Church for a free pancakes and bacon breakfast. This was such a heartwarming experience. They’ve been feeding hikers for 16 years, I believe. They even offer to send a letter to anyone, anywhere with a picture of you because “someone out there wants to know you’ve just hiked 110 miles”. The church members were really great people to talk to and it was such an amazing way to start a long day. I found a deal to slackpack (a shuttle driver takes your pack or your heaviest items for you in a car and meets you at the end of the day) 19 miles. We made it to the meeting spot at Tellico Gap by 5 pm after enjoying lots of great views and some trail magic at Wayah Bald. Then we had to hike another 2 miles up to a shelter because of the high winds expected that night. That makes the total for the day 21 miles. Whew.

View from Wayah Bald

That’s it for now! Next, the smokies!


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Comments 1

  • Eric Haggart : Apr 4th

    Loved reading your journey so far. I live in Franklin and it was nice to hear you had a nice experience in our little mountain town. Best wishes for you on the rest of your journey, if you need anything let us know!


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