New State, New Terrain

Now that I’ve hit North Carolina, I’ve relaxed a little mentally as I feel my legs begin to really get used to the trail. The terrain has definitely gotten a bit more forgiving than Georgia. Yes, the first thing that happened immediately after entering NC was a straight-up climb at a solid 30° angle for half a mile or so, since then the climbs have been more gradual. I’ve heard it said that Georgia just doesn’t know what switchbacks are, and this seems to be a pretty fair assessment.

Day 11: Muskrat Creek Shelter to Beech Gap (9.3 miles)

In that light, I climbed my highest mountain so far today. For miles into my day off relatively easy risers and descents, I began the climb from Deep Gap into the Southern Nantahala Wilderness to ascend 1,100 feet over the next 2.4 miles. It was a beautiful grade which brought my to the summit of Standing Indian Mountain at 5478′. I hung on the top for about 90 minutes enjoying my lunch and the views before finally getting some photos and descending to Beech Gap to set up camp.

There have been some reports of bear activity in the area, but the shelter ahead has had some issues. Better to camp a few miles shy and hike through tomorrow. Nevertheless, everyone was very diligent about hanging their bags tonight. Things concluded with a bunch of campers in the area hanging around around a very nice campfire. One of the other hikers, Jaime, ever packed out a couple beers (which is wonderful insanity) and shared one with me. There are some really good people out here.

Day 12: Beech Gap to Long Branch Shelter (11.8 miles)

Not not even one mile into today’s hike, I popped a cliff caffeinated chew into my mouth and promptly lost a crown. Fortunately nothing is exposed so there is no pain, just a very rough tooth without enamel, so I’m going to have to figure out a way to get this fixed in the next couple towns coming up. Turns out all dentists in Franklin (the next town) are closed from Friday to Sunday. Looks like I’ll have to take a zero on Sunday and make some calls Monday morning to figure out a plan.

Also, I may have spoken too soon. North Carolina definitely took the opportunity to kick my ass climbing Albert Mountain. The rest of the day was relatively mellow, but the climb to the top was relentless, even if not incredibly long. It was nice to take a break at the top to enjoy the views before ascending the fire tower.

After a short break we hurried to the shelter, much of the hike through the clouds and a mist in the air. With thunderstorms in the forecast and wind gusts up to 44 mph, I wanted to make sure I got to the shelter in time to claim a spot. Along the way was another landmark, we passed the 100 mi mark of the Appalachian Trail.

Pulled into the shelter around 3 pm with only two people already there. In the end it was a mostly full shelter and a half dozen tents in the area.

Day 13: Long Branch Shelter to Winding Stair Gap/Franklin

This was a pretty easy day with a gradual up, followed by a gradual descent. Halfway through the hike we were greeted by trail magic at Rock Gap, where some previous hikers were serving hot dogs and coffee or beer for breakfast. After a couple dogs I continued on to winding stair gap to meet Trademark’s Parents. They gave us a ride into town where the lazy hiker brewery was doing in a 7th annual hiker day with free food. I chowed on the food and enjoyed a couple beers before walking over to Ingles to do some grocery shopping. I finally headed back to the hostel where I made a pasta and chicken with a vodka cream sauce dinner for the eight of us who are staying there. All in all, a pretty good. 13 days leading up to my first true zero.

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Comments 2

  • Pinball : Apr 3rd

    Yeah those laminated bear warnings were already out there as early as Sep’22. Wonder if they’ll ever take them down. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  • Sabrina : Apr 4th

    And to your accomplishments, you add cooking a delicious meal for some lovely people. Well done, dear heart!


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