Hiawassee to Franklin to The NOC
Thru hiking is not all sunshine and burritos: Days 11-17
First off, let me just say how excited we are to get out of Georgia! I’m pretty sure the trail in Georgia was specifically made to weed out those who aren’t physically/mentally able to complete the trail. In Georgia, you go up and over mountains continuously all day long. It. Is. Greuling. In North Caronlina however, it’s like they figured out “Hey! We can totally just go around this mountain, keep the terrain fairly level, and the side of it still has incredible views!” We also feel like we’re finally out of our own backyard, which is both scary and exciting.
We’ve had some pretty hard days with weather and low spirits, but we’ve also been rewarded with some truly breathtaking views so far in NC.
We were elated to cross over the Ga/NC border! It felt like such a long time coming, and knowing you have even one state down is pretty awesome. However, as soon as we crossed that border, the cold weather hit us with a vengeance. As in hail/sleet/snow. As in one day I was wearing shorts and a Tshirt and the next day I had on every layer of clothing I brought. As in 20 degrees at night. One of the hardest things we’ve had to do on the trail so far was to pass up a “hiker feed” that was being set up for the night at the Standing Indian Campground. It was midday and we still needed to keep to our mileage schedule for the day, so we had to very reluctantly decline hanging out and eating all day. However, making it to Franklin a day earlier was worth it.
After pushing it 16 miles (our biggest mile day yet), and crossing over the 100 mile mark at the Albert Mountian fire tower, we found a lady to shuttle us and 5 other hikers to Frankin, NC in her tiny minivan. That poor woman had to be rethinking her life choices with 7 smelly hikers and 7 smelly packs crammed into the back of her van. But we made it and it was a hilarious car ride!
After consuming a ton of Mexican food, we ended up staying at a really crappy motel in Franklin (which is what $45 will do for you). The homesickness really started hitting us in Franklin. We’re not really sure why, because the town is so hiker-friendly. I honestly can’t tell you how awesome the people of Franklin are towards hungry, smelly thru hikers. The First Baptist Church of Franklin even picked us up from our hotel, fed us a delicious pancake and bacon breakfast, and dropped us off back at our hotel.
There are certainly times on the trail where you just ask yourself why you’re putting yourself through all of this trouble. Why you gave up routine, normalcy, and comfort. Where you just want to go home and sleep in your own, clean bed. Where you lose sight of your goals and become discouraged. But once we get back on the trail and leave the towns behind, those feelings seem to dissipate. We feel a renewed love for trail life and our fellow thru hikers. Seeing those breathtaking views makes everything worthwhile. Meeting an 83 year old man section-hiking the trail with his family that tells you you’re “a true mountian woman” (because you’re not carrying lotion) gives you that extra confidence boost you were lacking.
Also! We finally got our trail names! Josh is “Google” because he’s always helping people find shuttles, figure out milages and is just a general information guru. I am “Little Foot”, as in the little brontosaurus from The Land Before Time movies, because apparently I eat really slowly, like a brontosaurus. It’s really cool to introduce yourself to people with your trail name instead of your actual name, because there always a neat story behind it.
We have thoroughly enjoyed our Nero at the NOC today! Cheeseburgers and buffalo chicken pizza and showers have been wonderful! And we’re so thankful that our friend Billy came up to do some trail magic, hang out and do yoga with us!
Thank you to everyone for their continued encouragement and support!
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