Dicks Creek Gap to the NOC
So much rain! We seem to get rain or an overcast sky almost everyday. Except for the days we decided to spend in a cabin or white water rafting. Go figure. This past week has been awesome. We’ve set a new record for our most miles hiked in a day and also covered a distance of seven miles in just two hours. I’d say if we don’t already have our trail legs yet, we will at least by the end of the Smokies. We’re all feeling great and the trails have been training us well.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
We hit the trail fresh at Dicks Creek Gap. We had North Carolina on our minds! At the beginning of our day we were only 9 miles from the second state on this hike. It was a breeze. We stopped for lunch at Plum Orchard Gap, spoke briefly with Hardware (awesome guy from Peabody, Mass.), had lunch, filtered some more water and pushed on. We hit the border, snapped photos and made our way the last 0.1 mile to Bly Gap where we would would be staying for the night. When we arrived at the campsite it was already quite full so we pushed up and over the hill above the main camping area and find a nice little secluded spot where we could camp and watch the sunset. We had Glacier, Christine, Whisper, and Karma all join us around our campfire for the evening. It was a great time as always.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
We pushed on from Bly Gap later than everyone else, as usual. Today’s plan was 12 miles to Beech Gap. It was actually a pretty easy day of hiking. The only decent climb was up Standing Indian Mountain which we waited to do after a nice, long break so we could hit it fresh. Beech Gap was a nice spot. Lots of campers this night and a long walk to get water. We were able to have a dry evening but of course had a wet morning the following day.
Monday, April 13, 2015
So, this day is a perfect example of the spontaneity of thru hikers. We woke up, wet and 20 miles from Winding Stair Gap which is where we could get a shuttle into Franklin, NC, our first resupply spot in NC. Well, the day’s hiking started off really nice. Keebler’s back was feeling better after resting for a couple of days in Hiawassee and we were all in the mood to knock out some miles. It began as a joke. Let’s just push the 20 miles to Franklin and get room. For us, I think we saw it as a challenge. Challenge accepted. We even convinced Glacier as we passed her to join us. (It’s not hard to convince a thru hiker to bust out extra miles for food and beer.) We ended up making it to Rock Gap only 17 miles in and catching a shuttle as we would have reached Winding Stair Gap too late. We ate, laughed, kicked it out outside of the Sapphire Inn all night. Totally worth the 17.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Yes! Our day in town. We love these days. I could write a whole post about the awesome that surrounds Franklin, NC. Any city who’s welcoming billboard states that it’s an Appalachian Trail community is cool in my book. Everyone in town was awesome and super supportive. We checked out Outdoor 76. A sweet local gear shop with beer on tap. Yes, gear shop with beer on tap. Walked over to the Sunset Restaurant where I had probably the best server of my life. She was a pro. Nicest lady ever, and these chef even came out, thanked us for coming by, and let us know he piled our plates extra high. After this we made our way to an Ingles to resupply and then managed to hitch a ride for the four of us and Blue Dog back to the inn. Last errand was the post office. While Glacier and I were sitting out front at least five folks, every one that walked by, stopped to just say hey and offered some words of encouragement. I’m sold on this town. If I wasn’t then, the WW2 vet that squeezed 5 thru hikers and a Blue Dog in his jeep for a ride back to the trail sold me on it. These people were incredible.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
We woke up to the sounds of cars passing by on the nearby highway that goes into Franklin. We camped only about 0.1 into the woods. We actually pushed to the designated site but with five of us and the two other folks that were there there was not enough room to camp at this site. It was raining off and on for the whole morning. I sat in my tent and did some writing while having a cold breakfast. We usually get late start when it’s raining. Today was no different. Glacier packed up and was out with plans of a 15 mile day in order to meet a friend at the NOC. Our plan was 15 miles too but we didn’t make that. We actually left over man short this day. Keebler just want feeling hiking so he stayed back for the day with plans of catching up down the trail in a day or two. We ended up only going about 5-10 miles. Also we haven’t ran back into Glacier yet but I wouldn’t mind crossing paths again. Our camp on this night was pretty mucky. My tent didn’t stand a chance. It was soaked in and out. It’s all good though. The little things like that don’t bother me like I thought they would.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
We woke up and did a short day to Cold Spring Gap. Our reasoning for such a short day was to let Keebler catch up. And he did. Not feeling to hot after pushing out a 15 mile day in the rain to catch up with us. This evening was fun. Lots of great folks around the shelter made for good laughs and nice conversation.
Friday, April 17, 2015
This was another one of those pretty eventful days. We woke up, stayed late at the shelter, and let things dry out before packing up. This is always fun because we usually have a lot off traffic pass us during the morning which allows us to meet a lot of hikers from other groups. We left this shelter in our usual style. Late and hiking hard. We busted out 10 miles to the observation tower just south of the NOC. Pretty crowded spot as it was finally a beautiful day with good views of the Smokies. I had a quick lunch and we decided to push fired to the NOC. We knocked that last 7 miles in 2 hours! For those who don’t backpack, that’s rolling. We hit the NOC pumped, high fives and all. And as the spirit of the trail goes, we met a stranger, hopped into a van, and proceeded to have an awesome night at Rolling Thunder River Company. Check these folks out! You’ll hear all about them in my next blog.
RECAP- I’ve never felt better in my life. This is the strongest I’ve ever been. I don’t even get sore muscles after climbing mountains all day with my pack on. That’s one thing that has surprised me. Like I’ve felt really good. I think it’s the protein with amino acids repairing my muscles and just the fact that we started slow. It’s crazy. Last year my knees hurt from day 2 to day 30. This year, no pain yet. We’ll see how long it lasts! This trail is incredible. Get out and hike!
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