Day Six: Ups, Downs and Crazy Quail

When I woke up and went to put my socks on, I got a surprise. My socks haven’t been drying inside my tent so I’ve been leaving them out of the tent under the vestibule (and on top of my shoes) to dry. Last night some little critter apparently had his dinner or very early breakfast while perched on my socks. He had eaten a seed pod and left the remaining pod and some seeds on my sock. Oh well! Guess it made a comfy critter perch.

Seed Pod

Managed to get out of camp a little earlier today for my second 13 mile day. I had to go straight up Tray Mountain.

Tray Mountain Wilderness Sign

Tray Mountain was a tough climb first thing in the morning with 850ft of elevation gain in one and a half miles. Unlike some other summits, it delivered a great view.

I trekked 982ft from there down to steel trap gap in about 2 miles. Though the water source was supposedly .1 miles off trail, my whole group agreed it had to be around .25 miles instead. Still, it was probably the best place to hydrate. In fact, today’s water sources were difficult to space out properly without traveling a half-mile off trail or carrying a ton of water weight up some sizable climbs. I stretched the water reserves pretty good for some of this portion but it worked out. Oh, but don’t worry – apparently we were all get our swag on… No one has been able to adequately explain this “SWAG of the Blue Ridge” area, but it was amusing.

Swag of the Blue Ridge

As I was hiking with Rene and Kringle, Kringle ended up pulling ahead and when we caught up to him he was staring into the bushes. Apparently a Quail (Correction: It was most likely a grouse) had flown into the trail straight at him, just as one had done to me a couple days earlier. He admitted to getting scared out of his mind and jumping like a ballerina. Ya, I pretty much did the same thing when it happened to me. It’s a lot of noise all of a sudden and out of nowhere.

Grouse: 2 – Hikers: 0

I think the hardest climb and descent for the day was about 4 miles down trail at Kelly Knob. One mile straight up a 820ft elevation gain and straight back down almost 600ft. I know some people who have hiked longer on the A.T. or elsewhere might not be impressed with the elevation changes, but for a Florida hiker who couldn’t possibly see more than 300ish ft in elevation gain if I hiked the entire Florida Scenic Trail, it’s still a lot of up and down – Especially for only Day 6 on the trail!

I needed a little extra water before the nights stop so we each got about a liter and then hiked to Dicks creek Gap. Ended up staying at the Top of Georgia Hostel where once again a kind soul payed for my hostel bed! I am so blessed!

Hostel passport stamps

Inside Top of Georgia Hostel

While I was eating supper, I met southbound thru-hikers “Gap” and Frank and listened to all kinds of funny stories as well as some Trail advice. Might be switching my Sawyer Mini for a Sawyer squeeze after this trip. Also, the Injinji sock liners sound promising but I may not switch my REI sock liners out just yet. Still, the Injinji might prevent any issues between toes, which sounds great.

The perfect end to the night was sipping coffee and watching the sunset over the mountains from the back porch.

Sunset from the back porch of the Hostel


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Comments 5

  • Andy : Jun 7th

    It’s a grouse, not a quail. “Swag of the Blue Ridge” — According to the Appalachian trail conference guide: “This area is called a “swag” or “low point” and is a long, broad ridgecrest with only moderate elevation change, extending for more than three miles- among the remotest areas of the Georgia Trail.” Happy trails

  • Mary : Jun 8th

    I understand the elevation change issue. I’m from a very flat state (Illinois), where the only thing close to a hill is a bridge. Any advice on training for the ups and downs? I’m thinking stair climber and stair stepping exercises?

    • Joshua Johnson : Jun 8th

      I did 9 floors of stairs a day for several months and then did 15 floors a day for the month leading up to it. It conditioned some muscle tone in my legs for the inclines pretty well. I also had a lighthouse in my area and climbed it a few times. A bridge is a great place to throw the pack on and go over it andback a few times. I would say that my cardio still needed some work, but I also have sea-level conditioned lungs and am not used to breathing at 2500+ above sea level so your mileage may vary in that area.

      I don’t see any reason a stair stepper wouldn’t condition your legs as well. If you wanted to get super-serious you could grab one of those altitude masks to wear that makes you work harder to breathe. Good luck!

  • J-Bird : Jun 9th

    Just finished my GA section this past weekend. Had a similar experience with grouse, they do make a racket and ignore fear to come straight at you.

    Soak in the trail!

    • Joshua Johnson : Jun 10th

      Ha ha, nice! I will, thanks and you do the same.


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