North Carolina On My Mind
A lot has happened since we last updated the blog. But first, miles recap.
Miles: 7.4/ mile marker: 60.3
Miles: 13.8/ mile marker: 74.1
Just before standing Indian Man Shelter
Miles: 11.9/ mile marker: 86
Rock Gap Shelter
Miles: 20/ mile marker: 106
Winding stair gap
Miles: 3.8/ mile marker: 109.8
Budget Inn, Franklin, NC
A few highlights include:
– Crossing into North Carolina
– Hitting the 100 mile mark on the AT
– Climbing our first 5,000 footer of the trail
– Logging our first 20 mile day
Safe to say it’s been a productive four and a half days.
Crossing into North Carolina was our first mini milestone. And we would have felt great about it– had we not been slapped in the face with a mountain. Now for someone who has done a good amount of hiking, I’m no stranger to tough uphill climbs. But everywhere I’ve been the mountains are crossed with switchbacks (a switchback is when the trail crisscrosses up the mountain as opposed to going straight up)… I’m not sure if the trail makers at the North Carolina border were either oblivious to the common practice of using switchbacks or if they just wanted to be mean, but the climb into North Carolina was as steep as they come. Straight up. For miles. It didn’t help that it was raining when we crossed the border and throughout the day, adding the obstacle of mud slides to the mix. When all was said and done, we made it 12 miles into NC before deciding to call it a day.
The only thing that makes the North Carolina entry seem like a distant memory is that the hiking the following day was probably some of the best I’ve ever done. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, we could see the mountain peaks almost all day, and the miles were easy and gradual. We hit 100 miles that day, which culminated in a hand-over-hand climb up to the top of Albert Mountain– and man, was it worth it. There is a fire tower at the top that you can climb (I know, as if we hadn’t climbed enough), but it’s a rite of passage on the AT. After basking in the sun and wind up there for a bit, we finished out our day with several more miles to make our first 20 mile day. We’ve spent the last day and a half in Franklin, NC recouping and resting before our next jaunt that will bring us ever so close to the Smokys, which have a reputation for being incredibly challenging. We’ve heard there is still snow on the ground and below freezing temperatures could be expected. The next few days are calling for rain, so we’ll soak up as much indoor dry time in Franklin as possible before hitting the trail, but we’re excited to get back on. Zero days are relaxing and I know they are much needed, but I get really antsy knowing the miles that lie ahead of us. We’re feeling great, well rested, and definitely well fed. Next stop is Fontana Dam.
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