Rest Days in Helen, Hiawassee, and the Sheeter

Day 10 in Helen Georgia

We planned to eat all the things, but found ourselves struggling to eat.  We ordered lots of food, but found that we couldn’t eat it.  Hiker hunger has not yet set in.
Did town errands, laundry and resupply. Got multiple warnings about norovirus on the trail, and packed enough toilet paper in the event of a poopocalypse. Being prepared means it won’t happen, right?

DAY 11 Unicoi Gap to Swag of the Blue Ridge

Shuttled back to Unicoi Gap first thing in the morning. Our shuttle driver was nice, but a smoker so it was a rough ride.
I had noticed the stairs leading up the mountain and felt intimidated by the trail ahead. But we rocked it, doing our longest day yet of 9.7 miles and with the most elevation yet. Stopped at Tray mountain shelter for lunch and ended up hanging out for two hours to chat with other hikers rolling in.

Water sources were scarce up ahead, with no source of water until past our intended camp spot. Loaded up on 4 liters of water- fun fact, a liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds-and carried it to Swag of the Blue Ridge, where we made camp for the night. Caroline (No trail name yet!) made a campfire and after eating we crashed for the night.

Day 12 Swag of the Blue Ridge to Dick’s Creek Gap, 7.4 miles

Thought a mere 7.4 miles would be an easy day. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t😂. This was the most remote part of the trail and the ascents were steeper than we’ve seen yet. Caroline and I took turns feeling a little bonked. At one point Caroline ran past me yelling something about having met up with cocaine bear in the woods. I was worried I’d be trying to keep up all day, but it turned out the sugar high from the gummy bears didn’t last long. We were moving as fast as possible to try to catch the 2 pm shuttle to town, but when we realized we weren’t gonna make it we detoured off the path to a view point for lunch. It was worth it.
Arrived at Dick’s Creek around 330 and attempted yet again unsuccessfully to hitchhike. A shuttle driver stopped by and offered to take us to Hostel around the Bend where I picked up my care package, but they were full up so we didn’t stay. A guy there told us the secret to a successful hitch was to smile and look happy. We had been trying to look pathetic and tired and cold, which wasn’t difficult. This new smile strategy got us a ride within minutes and we ran excitedly to the truck, to be asked to ride in the back. I had flashbacks to childhood while Caroline asked “How do we do this, I’ve never done this before”. The ride into town was refreshing and probably helped a bit with our hiker smell, and he drove us directly to our hotel and stuck around a bit telling us about his hiking adventures.

We got checked in, and a lady living in the next room heard us talking about dinner, and offered us a ride to the restaurant. We got to meet her very small and cute dog, Shotgun Annie Oakley. Walked into the restaurant and three hikers we hadn’t seen for many miles yelled “Hey Flamethrower!”. Chatted a bit, then had dinner. Three other hikers walked in and yelled “Hey Flamethrower!” We finished dinner and then took our drinks to the patio to hang with Cool Breeze, Kegstand, and Underhill for a bit.

Day 13 Zero Day in Hiawassee

Spent a zero day in Hiawassee trying to avoid some rain. We had planned to skip breakfast, but both of us slept all night long for the first time and woke up ravenous. The nice lady next door drove us to Huddle House for breakfast, and then we did laundry and resupply.

Planning to hit the trail tomorrow when the rain stops. The next stretch is forty miles before we hit town, and some rain is expected. We are planning 4-5 days, and carrying a little extra food in case of delay.

Day 14  Another Zero day in Hiawassee

Ended up spending an extra zero day in Hiawassee, as did all the hikers we saw in town. A super steep descent from Kelly’s Knob caused many sore knees. We could see the mountain from town and curses were directed at it.

Day 15  Dick’s Creek Gap to Plum Orchard Shelter

Met the 9 am shuttle in Hiawassee back to Dick’s Creek Gap and saw a lot of hikers we knew. Short day of 4.7 miles to Plum Orchard Shelter to baby Caroline’s knee.
Cujo and her mom Lee caught up and hiked most of the day along with us.

Arrived to find the shelter empty because someone had been stung by a hornet while near the shelter and decided there must be a nest, and advised everyone to tent. I prefer being lazy and not setting up and breaking down my tent every day, so I wandered around the shelter and discovered zero hornets or nests. I ended up with the entire first floor to myself, and another hiker took the second floor. When I heard a loud bang in the night I thought he had fallen, but it turned out the wind had knocked my backpack off the peg (they get hung up to keep away mice and other rodents).

Day 16 Plum Orchard Shelter to Muskrat Creek Shelter (Sheeter) 7.5 miles, 3000 feet of ascent

Caroline set out ahead of me in the morning and I almost caught up to her a few times. First I managed to get a little lost trying to get from the shelter back to the AT, but I wasn’t the only one so I didn’t feel so bad. Crossed into North Carolina and spent a bit of time looking for the tiny sign that said GA/NC.  Farout told me I was well past it, so I turned around and hiked back.  When I ran into the Fellowship, they told me they thought it was still up ahead, so I turned back around.  We finally found it, Farout had been lying to me.
Cold and windy day made it hard to stop long, and ascending Sharp Top Mountain was difficult.
Trying to grab water before getting to the shelter I found a hiker washing her hair in the water source. I sat and waited for her to finish so I could go upstream from her contamination, her companion asked me to leave because he wanted to take a bath. In our water source. Ugh.

Got to shelter and Caroline had saved me a spot, which I was so happy for after the long day and with the threat of incoming rain. No one lingered at dinner because one very loud guy completely dominated the conversation, and everyone found other places to be.

Day 17 Zero Day at Muskrat Creek Shelter

It started raining hard around 3 am, and I woke up needing to pee and found someone sleeping in front of me on the very edge. He’d been hiking during the night and stopped when it started raining, but took off again very soon.
Caroline and I debated on whether to push to the next shelter about five miles away, but it was in the 40s, raining, and windy, and we decided to take a zero day.
As a group calling themselves The Fellowship decided to leave, Kegstand noticed her bag of dry clothes was missing. We suspected another hiker had accidentally picked it up and left, and calls were made to the shuttle driver that was meeting her in a few miles. The lady did indeed have the bag of clothes, and the shuttle driver went out of his way to get them back. And it made us aware of how much of our gear looks similar, ultralight backpacking gear does not come in a wide variety of colors.

We hung out all day in the shelter watching the rain and talking to people who stopped by for lunch. I very much appreciated that I was carrying my kindle and got a few hours of reading in. At one point Caroline, I, and another girl who had decided not to move on in the rain started talking about telling scary stories. Caroline said she had the best scary story, and I asked if it was the one where the Obnoxious Loud Man came back, and it was! We got lucky he decided to ride out the rain in his tent with a book.

Day 18 Muskrat Creek Shelter to Standing Indian Shelter for lunch, and then to Carter Gap Shelter

Woke up to much nicer weather, and decided to get ambitious and do 12.7 miles to stay with our bubble of people who had decided to hike through the rain.
Stopping in at Standing Indian Shelter we found out through the AT grapevine that overnight bears had seen the hanging pic-a-nic baskets and helped themselves. The Fellowship lost their food supply, and retreated a mile to a gap and gone to town.
Took a blue blaze to the top of Standing Indian Mountain despite being tired and it was so worth the views.
After a very long day we got to Carter Gap Shelter. Someone had recently been evacuated out with norovirus, so we set up our tents rather than staying in the shelter. Caroline put some of her food and snacks in my bear canister, and then we worked to get her food up as high as we could. And then I casually tossed Beary Cannilow under some brush. We tried to eat some dinner but mostly just wanted to sleep after the long day.

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Comments 1

  • Harry Poppins : Apr 22nd

    My first night on the AT ( as a section hiker) was Standing Indian Mountain. I was promised a great view. AT being what it was we were socked in with clouds. That was 11 years ago. I still would like to go back and see the view. I am part way into Virginia now btw. I plan to finish the trail when I am 84


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