I’m Organizing My Trash

Day 8: 3,700 ft ascent, 10.7 miles

Erik and I stopped to eat breakfast a little over an hour after we had started hiking. My dad had gone ahead as he typically does. As we were sitting there, another hiker crossed our path hiking the other direction. I had a hunch that she looked familiar, but didn’t want to alarm a stranger if she wasn’t who I thought she was. But the more she talked the more my suspicions grew until I finally just blurted it out: “Were you at the Foothills Trail this past winter for the End of Days hike? I think I met you there!” Sure enough, it was Gutsy!

I wrote about my conversation with her during that hike in my Foothills Trail blog post. She is a triple-crowner (meaning she has hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail), so a very experienced backpacker. I had really enjoyed my conversation with her the first time we met.

She took off her pack and ended up eating breakfast with us. She shared a few stories and got our contact information so we can stay in touch during the hike. We have exchanged a few emails since. I’m still new to the thru-hiking community, but boy is it small.

As we were packing up, Erik made a comment about how strange it is that he now organizes his trash. Three days of trash on the trail can be carried in a quart-sized ziploc bag! You want it organized so when you see the golden trash cans you’re ready to go.

One state down, 13 to go!

In other news of the day, we got Georgia off our our minds! North Carolina said hello very quickly with two touch climbs back-to-back that tried to break a lot of people on the trail. The talk of the trail later that night had everyone complaining about those climbs!

The border tree!

I’m still trying to figure out why privies need handicap bars.

Day 9: 2,730 ft ascent, 15.7 miles

It’s amazing how quickly news travels on trail. We heard during the day that there had been bear activity the past few nights at the shelter we had been aiming for that day. Although we carry Ursack bear-proof bags with odor-proof ziploc bags inside, we decided not to tempt fate and added three miles to the end of the day. We were all beat.

Bad news: everybody else around us on the trail had the same idea. Good news: my dad had figured that out and found us a stealth spot about 0.2 miles ahead of where the rest of our trail bubble was headed. We all like the peace and were happy to not be in the middle is tent city like we had been the night before.

Day 10: 1,580 ft ascent, 9.1 miles

We had anticipated strong storms overnight, so we were surprised to wake up to dry tents. We broke camp with thunder rumbling in the distance but only sprinkles on us. We had our rain gear handy and headed out to conquer Albert Mountain.

It started raining right before we headed up the mountain for our steepest climb thus far. We didn’t have any views at the top, but we did get our 100 mile picture!

We made it to Rock Creek Gap and I called to get a shuttle into Franklin. Sherpa Al was there within 20 minutes! He let us pick up some packages at the post office before dropping us off at our hotel for the evening. Since we were in town and out of the rain, we obviously had to celebrate with more Dominos pizza! Pizza after the rain was the perfect ending to a cold and wet day.

Jake was happy to be washed and warm after the rain!

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Comments 5

  • Dawn Thelen : Apr 12th

    Awe, Jake looks SO happy and pampered on that bed! So proud of you!

    • Courtney Branson : Apr 12th

      Thanks Dawn! It was a well-deserved break for him, he had just started carrying all of his own food! Erik and I had split carrying it until then so Jake could keep up.

  • Lindsay Simpkins : Apr 12th

    Love watching your journey as you fulfill one if your dreams! Prayers for safety and fun. Love you, friend!

    • Courtney Branson : Apr 12th

      Thanks friend! It is quite the whirlwind.

  • Shawnte Michaels : Apr 17th

    This is so great, Courtney! It looks like a wonderful time! We are routing for you!


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