AT05 From Bly Gap to Francklin – Tears

March 12 – 9.2 miles

I wake up with the sun and check on my unexpected visitor of the night.
She is ok, she managed to warm up and get a bit of sleep.
I open the tent fly and we have a little chat while watching the sun rising.
It is almost romantic.

I know I don’t have much to walk today, so I take my time and chat with everyone before hitting the trail.
It is almost 10am when I start walking.

My plan is to camp at Standing Indian mountain to enjoy the sunset, just like I did with 2 of my companions 4 years ago.
But when I reach the area, there is a bear warning. It says that it is hardly recommended to have a bear canister and that not storing your food properly can grant you a $5000 fine ! Oups…
So when I reach Standing Indian shelter, I am hesitant to keep going. But other hikers convince me to do what I want, and that if I hang my bear bag properly I should not have any trouble.

I follow my heart and head to the mountain summit.

Two other hikers that I met before arrive and decide to stay too. So I won’t be alone.

I pitch my tent and find a good branch for a good PCT hang. I then go to the summit to watch the sun set while eating dinner.

It brings a lot memories. I was standing there with two of my friends four years ago, watching the same sun setting behind the same mountains…
I’m so glad I decided to camp there that night.

March 13 – 14.8 miles

I pack my stuff and have breakfast while the two guys leave.
A British couple that I’ve seen a couple of times walks by to see the view at the summit.
Before leaving, I decide to have a last look at the mountains and head to the summit myself.

The trail is an easy downhill, and the weather is good. It is going to be a good day.

I meet the couple again later that day. They are having a lunch break with a beautiful view, and I stop to enjoy a nice chat and the sight. We agree on how beautiful this section of the trail is. It is a corridor of bushes on the ridge, with green and red galax on the floor.

I meet them again soon after.
They stopped at a water source, and they are talking with another hiker.
We all talk about our trail experiences.
The couple, Clouds and Ripple, is from Scotland and already hiked the PCT and the CDT.
The other hiker, Half Pint, has hiked in Scotland a little while ago.
Then it is my turn to tell my story. I tell them about my first attempt in 2020 and how COVID dragged me off the trail.
Half Pint suddenly asks me if she can take a picture of me and my two AT tags.

Half Pint is actually a professional photographer, and she hikes the AT with her camera. She wants to take pictures of people and gather their stories.

So Clouds and Ripple leave, and Half Pint take a couple of pictures of me. Then, she takes her phone to record my story and asks me some questions.
She asks me why I am carrying my 2020 tag. And I realise that I never really thought about it… The answer might needs its own article.

It was a very unexpected situation, but it was a lot of fun and Half Pint is awesome! Definitely a good experience.

I carry on my hike, and reach Albert Mountain and the 100 mile mark !

I take pictures, very similar to the ones I’ve taken in 2020, and enjoy the view from the tower.

Time to head down the trail. I was planning to stop at Rock Gap shelter, but since I was a bit delayed by the “interview” I decide to stop at the shelter before, Long Branch Shelter.
I do not regret it. There, there are Rearview and Timberwolf that I met at Bly Gap, but also Clouds and Ripple. Half Pint arrives a bit later too. I had a great evening talking with all of them and we’ll all keep in touch later.

Rearview is looking for a room in Franklin, so I offer to share mine with him.

That night, I will sleep in a shelter for the very first time.

March 14 – 7.2 miles

I start hiking early, just after 7am. The sun is just about to rise and I enjoy walking with the first lights of the day. Clouds and Ripple are already gone, the others are still in bed or packing.

I stopped by Rock Gap Shelter. It is there that, 4 years ago, I have spent my last night on the trail. It is where me and my two companions decided to leave the trail because of the pandemic. As I got there, two trail volonteers arrive. GrandPa and Georgia Peach.

We talk for a while and then they head South.
Me, I turn around and start to cry. This place brings back a lot of memories. Bly Gap, Standing Indian and now Rock Gap… It makes me feel very emotional to go through all these places again.

I reach Winding Stairs Gap where I saw my last white blaze in 2020. From now on, it is a whole new trail ahead of me.

Clouds and Ripple are waiting for their hostel shuttle.
A car stops to give us trail magic (fruits and Cliff bars).
Their shuttle arrives and Sunset offers to take me to town too. Very nice !
I check in at the motel, and settle while I wait for Rearview to show up.

We go to town together for lunch and shopping. Of course we go to Outdoors 76.
Later, we will meet Clouds and Ripple at the Lazy Hiker Brewery. KitKat will join us.
I have a great time with all these people !

I’ll have a zero here the next day, and I will have a blast !

To be continued…

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Comments 1

  • Jim : Apr 12th

    I’m really enjoying following along on your journey, Pixie. Thanks for letting us follow along. And the story with the fellow female seeking shelter in your 1 person shelter is one of the best hiking stories I’ve ever heard!


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