Don’t climb mountains and drink tequila
Bama➡️Baxter Day 41 & 42
Day 41: 16 miles
This morning John, OBX, and I slept in a bit in the hotel. Then we packed our things and headed down to the continental breakfast. There was a pancake machine that literally printed pancakes if you pressed a button. We thought it was the coolest thing we’d ever seen.
After eating all of us gathered our things and got ready to head out. Then we walked over to the Ingles grocery store where the hiker shuttle was going to pick us up at 9am. We were the only ones waiting for the shuttle and chatted up the driver. I worked on finishing a blog post before heading out as well. And to our surprise Jesse woke up early and met us for the 9am shuttle too.
All of us got the ride back to Dicks Gap and prepared for a long day of walking. Today we are going to complete our first state on the AT! Finishing up the Georgia portion and heading into North Carolina. I am pretty excited to complete Georgia considering the fact that I’ve walked over 320+ miles through Georgia along my hike.
Once we got situated at the trailhead we began walking. There was a bit of climbing to start the day but nothing too intense. We pushed out about 4 or so miles before stopping to take our first break. John had packed out 4 beers and a 1lb bag of pretzels so he was living life once we stopped. He drank a beer while we sat. A bunch of other hikers were there as well so we talked to all of them. I ate a bit and stretched. Then we continued along to tag the GA/NC border.
There was a ton of elevation gain nearing the state line and afterwards. Fortunately the weather was great and made the uphill a bit more tolerable. And 8.9 miles into the day we came upon our first state crossing. Jesse and I got there first and took pictures. Then John and OBX arrived shortly after. We broke there and I whipped out 2 nips of tequila that I’d been carrying since Cave Springs, GA. That was over 300+ miles ago. I shared one with Jesse to celebrate and John enjoyed yet another beer.
When we left the state line and entered into North Carolina there was a killer climb. The shot of tequila definitely didn’t help. Slowly but surely I made my way up the climb though. While it was pretty rough it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. I find that I get a bit out of breath but am able to keep climbing without breaking in between thankfully.
Once I reached the top of the climb there was a shelter. We all decided to break there and came to find some of our friends were there too! We saw Magic Jim, Gucci, Forester, and Lauren. All of us took a break there for a while. Then John, Jesse, OBX, and I continued along. There were only about 5 miles remaining for the day and we had done nearly all of the elevation gain.
I walked and talked with the guys a bit when I wasn’t listening to music. And towards the end of the day as we were approaching a trailhead/road intersection I began telling the guys about the trail magic I was manifesting up ahead. I said that if there was trail magic at the road then we didn’t have to do the final .9 miles to our campsite for the night. And I shit you not as we were approaching the road we heard a voice in the distance. It was Magic Jim and he yelled “trail magic!” And all of us howled back in excitement. Did I really just manifest this?
At the road there was a couple parked who had a cooler with drinks, bananas, snacks, and other hiker essentials. I drank a Mountain Dew and laid on the ground, so unbelievably content. The parking area was also right by a fantastic flat tenting area where all of us could fit. So I got everything that I dreamed of. We got some goodies and then set up our tents by the road. No need to do the extra .9 mile tonight.
The lovely people doing trail magic talked to all of us. The guy had been on the AT earlier this year and just decided that it wasn’t for him. But he loves the trail and the community. They filled our water bottles and were so kind. And before leaving they gave us the extra sodas to give out to any other hikers who may pass by.
Not an hour later did another hiker stroll through, Crime Scene. He happily stopped when we offered him the Mountain Dew. He was absolutely crushing miles and doing the section from Springer mountain through the smokies. And to my surprise he even hiked the PCT last year! We bonded over that a bit and exchanged names of people and different information. I always love to talk to a fellow PCT hiker. He hung out with us for a long time before eventually continuing on to do more miles. That guy is pushing 20-30 mile days every day pretty much.
The rest of us hung out and had a fire. We all talked and joked and it was an amazing night. I laughed so much which is the most incredible feeling in my opinion. And after a while we all called it a night.
Day 42: 24 miles
Last night before going to bed we all checked the weather and saw that it was going to rain today between 5am-11am. So I said that if I woke up at 4:30am and it wasn’t raining out that I would break down my camp super early to keep my things dry. If you can keep your tent and things dry then you are in such a better position moving forward.
Sadly when I woke up my tent was bone dry which meant I had to start my day. OBX was already stirring around and beginning to break down camp. I whispered over to her, “Are we really about to do this?” And the answer was yes.
I broke down camp and did my stretching. Then the four of us set out walking just before 5am. And not 30 minutes later did it begin to rain. I was glad that our stuff was still dry. Even if it was only a light rain. We passed tons of people camping as the morning went on, as you might imagine.
About 6 miles into the day we decided to take our first break. It had hardly rained so we were able to take a dry break. But just around that time the rain actually began coming down. So we packed up and had to continue on our walking. It began to rain pretty hard from that point on. And within 10 or 15 minutes it became clear that I was gonna get pretty soaked. It wasn’t long before my shorts got soaked, but my torso stayed dry under my raincoat.
The rain came down super heavy for almost an hour while we walked. But fortunately after 3-4 miles of walking in the rain we came to a shelter. We decided to take a break there to dry off and warm up. The shelter was well known for bear activity and we were told to avoid camping at it. And when we arrived there was a guy mulling over the pile of ripped up trash that remained from his bear bag. A bear had gotten it down last night and torn into everything. I was glad that we hadn’t camped anywhere near there.
The shelter was still a great place to take a break though. I dried off a bit and had a snack. We sat there for a while and the rain actually began to lighten up. Not long after that we were able to get back to walking. And it wasn’t long before the rain stopped all together. That was quite a relief.
There was a good bit of climbing as the day went on so I was glad that the rain had let up. Rocks along the trail were still a bit slick but not as bad as they would have been. And mid way through the day we began the climb up Albert Mountain. Albert Mountain is the iconic fire tower climb and 100 mile mark on the AT. When we got to the top of the climb we were pleasantly surprised to see mostly clear skies as well. The views from the top of the fire tower were amazing. It was such an unexpected treat.
We took a break up top and talked with the hiker Crime Scene who we had met last night. He was planning to push to Franklin today and was asking us our plan. Originally we had planned to do a 17 mile day to a nearby shelter, but that was now only 2 miles away. Our early start meant we had gotten a lot of miles done by only noon. So we all began to toy with the idea of doing a 24 mile day and getting into Franklin by maybe 5pm.
All of us continued on from there. I took a break at the next shelter with John and Jesse. We had done 17 miles and the shelter was originally our intended camp spot for the night. But it was only 1pm so we decided instead to continue on to Winding Stair Gap where we could hitch a ride into Franklin.
As we were heading out of the shelter OBX caught up to us and we ran our plan by her. She was down as well. So we all hiked on the remaining 7 miles to the road. We took a mid way break and then pushed on and wound up getting to the gap right around 5pm. The three of us sat there for almost an hour waiting for OBX to arrive. We didn’t want to hitch without her. But after more time had gone by we figured that she had decided to set up camp instead.
While we were sitting there in the parking lot a guy pulled over and started talking to us. He asked if there was anything that we needed and John jokingly said, “A ride to Franklin would be nice!” And the guy quickly agreed. He moved some things aside and fit the three of us in his Subaru even with his two dogs in the car. We left a note for OBX at the trailhead and then were headed for Franklin.
And oddly enough while we were driving over I got a text from OBX. She had gotten a ride from an earlier road and was already in town at a hotel. There wasn’t room for all of us there though so I called another place and got us a room for the night. We got dropped off and settled in. Before taking showers we all wanted to grab something to eat. We were ravenous. So we walked over to Cook Out across the way and each got a big spread of food. There was no indoor dining so the three of us sat out on the concrete and ate there. It was such a fantastic and feral moment.
Then we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and chill for the night. After showering we went back to Cook Out for round two. Then just spent the rest of the night in the room having a few beers and relaxing.
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