Trail Update #2: Embracing the Suck of Bad Weather

The first few days on trail were B-E-A-UTIFUL thanks to amazing weather. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and that includes the weather. Hot Tea told me about a seminar she went to hosted by the owner of Top of Georgia Hostel where he emphasized ’embracing the suck.’ It is safe to say we are getting a good hands-on lesson on this topic.

Day 5 – Neel Gap to Low Gap Shelter

Miles –  11.5

Group – Heather, Philip, Tin Cup, Hot Tea, and Jukebox

Awesome things

  • Trail Angel at Tesnatee Gap with water
  • Listening to music on Spotify to get me pumped up


Less-awesome things

  • Steep climb up Wildcat Mountain (no one warns you about that one)
  • Noisy night at camp

Day 6 – Low Gap Shelter to Rocky Mountain

Miles – 11.1

Group – Hot Tea, Tin Cup, Philip, Heather (Jukebox said goodbye and hiked ahead of us)

Awesome things – 

  • Beautiful weather
  • Early-morning solo hike
  • Magic at Unicoi Gap (water, Gatorade powder, and Tootsie-Pops)
  • Team Electro-lit (we drank a lot of electrolyte drink while resting)
  • Sunset on Rocky Mountain


Less-awesome things – 

  • Dry water sources (I had to carry 4 liters of dirty water up a .75 mile hill at lunchtime)
  • Trash at Blue Mountain
  • Terrifying 2-hour long thunderstorm/gale-force windstorm (I was fairly convinced that I was watching the end of my life, which is why I didn’t take any pictures).


Day 7 – Rocky Mountain to Tray Mountain Shelter (4.3 miles)

Miles – 4.3

Group – Team Electro-lit (Philip, Heather, Hot Tea, Tin Cup). We also met quite a few others at the shelter.

Awesome things- 

  • Tent stayed up and dry during storm  (thank you, Big Agnes)
  • Philip got his trail name – Gandalf
  • Day hikers gave us an orange on Tray Mountain
  • I ate so much food 🙂
  • Short day…I even got to nap!

View from Tray Mountain

Shelter set-up

Less-awesome things –

  • I was tired from being up all night with the thunderstorm
  • Cold, windy night in Tray Mountain Shelter (I heard 15 degrees was the low)
  • Philip broke a trekking pole, then had a walking staff hence the name Gandalf

First piece of gear to break


Day 8 – Tray Mountain Shelter to Moreland Gap (10 miles)

Miles – 10

Group – Team Electro-lit

Awesome things – 

  • Lots of downhill hiking
  • Excellent warm fire to help stay warm as it snowed
  • Good company!

Team Electro-lit

Less-awesome things – 

  • Cold weather sets in and snow starts
  • I burnt a hole in my shoe (it took me a while to realize my toes was TOO warm)
  • Tired from bad night of sleep in shelter

Bummer….hopefully Tenacious Tape can fix this

DAY 9 – Moreland Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap

Miles – 1

Group – Team Electro-lit; a hiker named Mule also made camp with us for the night.

Awesome things – 

  • Easy hike in the snow
  • Tin Cup mistakenly threw a snowball at Mule thinking it was Gandalf
  • I got my trail name! I found a wrapped mini Snickers in the parking lot at Deep Gap, picked it up, and ate it wit out shame! Now, I am Snickers. #hikertrash
  • Tin Cup remembering that he left his tin cup at camp and was able to retrieve it before we left for town.
  • Laundry, hot shower, tent-drying and TV-watching at Budget Inn
  • All-you-can-eat Southern food buffet

I was tempted to use my trowel as a shovel



This little guy is how I got my name


Laundry day fashion


Wet gear explosion….the room got really humid

Less-awesome things – 

  • Wet gear
  • Slightly creepy guy hanging around Dick’s Creek Gap (not a hiker)
  • Spending $$$ on resupply
  • Long, cold wait for shuttle to Budget Inn

Day 10 – Dick’s Creek Gap to Muskrat Creek Shelter

Miles – 11.8

Group – Team Electro-lit. We met Bun along the way, and found a packed shelter with some familiar faces.

Awesome things –

  • Gandalf got new Leki poles from the Outfitter near Budget Inn
  • The Outfitter was hilarious
  • Gandalf and I sent home some luxury items to reduce pack weight
  • Crossing into North Carolina

Bagging our first state!

Less-awesome things – 

  • Spending $$$ for new trekking poles
  • Long day of hiking with a late start
  • Cold, damp, snowy weather
  • Courthouse Bald climb (so much up)
  • Georgia ended the way it started…so much pointless ups and downs!

Day 11 – Muskrat Creek Shelter to Carter Gap Shelter

Miles – 12.5

Group – Team Electro-lit plus lots of other hikers we met at the shelter

Awesome things –

  •  No one got frostbite

Less-awesome things –

  • Woke up to 3″ fresh snow
  • All the wet things turned to frozen things
  • Couldn’t hike long enough/fast enough to get off the mountain
  • Temperatures continued to dip (never got above freezing)
  • Water frozen in my Platypus bladder and hose, so it was a dry hike.

Wearing every layer, and still cold!

Day 12 – Carter Gap Shelter to Rocky Gap (12.1 miles)

Miles – 12.1

Group – Team Electro-lit; most of the people who were at Carter Gap Shelter also moved our way

Awesome things – 

  • I woke up with all my fingers and toes looking a natural color (they didn’t stay that way once we got outside)
  • We summited Mt. Albert and celebrated 100 miles on the AT
  • The sun came out
  • We ended up in town with a warm place to sleep
  • We ordered pizza for dinner!

100 miles!


Gorgeous view from Mt. Albert


Gandalf standing next to some large boulders along the trail up to Mt. Albert.

Less-awesome things –  

  • Bitter, frigid AM temperatures (a hiker in the shelter had a thermometer that read 0 degrees Farenheit)
  • Fear/panic about frostbite due to painful, cold, purple fingers
  • I cried for the first time due to feeling a little hopeless
  • I slipped and fell over some roots on the trail
  • My whole left leg hurt

For the sake of my parent’s sanity, we are holed up in a hotel for a while to stay safe. I have never been so grateful for coffee, clean sheets, and heat!


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Comments 2

  • Randy Vigil : Mar 16th

    Stay safe you guys!

  • Mark Boyer : Mar 17th

    Those are great trail names. Glad you guys are safe and playing it safe. Gandalf might want to work on one of those changing the weather spells. And please tell me that at some point he has done the whole ‘you shall not pass’ thing and if he hasn’t, please let us know when he does.


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