Goodbye, Georgia: Days 6–9 on the AT

Day 6: Cheese Factory to Addis Gap; 7.4 miles

Woke up to owls again. Lauren and I took another slow morning to soak in the sunshine.

I’ve been thinking about the magic in the in-between moments today — the time that isn’t consumed by a drive forward to the next shelter or tent site. 

My Katadyn BeFree fell out of my bag at some point, and someone I met just a week ago gave me his extra Sawyer to use to filter my water until I could pick up a new one. The magic in the in-between.

Neb has been teaching me some bird calls, and I recognized my first tufted titmouse on a snack break this week. The magic in the in-between.

I was thinking about this as I washed up at a creek near camp (I stink and the bugs are starting to notice — sexy, I know). Feeling the breeze blowing gently over my skin while I splashed water on my face gave me goosebumps and made me smile. Magic.

Lauren and I hiked alone together through the day. She’s faster going uphill; I’m quicker on the rocky descents, so we’re sometimes a quarter to a half mile apart. Then one of us will take a break when we’re ahead (usually Lauren) and we’ll catch up with each other. In a way, it’s comforting to know I’m never truly that far from another human.

When I’m hiking alone, I’m finding I feel my emotions more intensely. On my way up Tray Mountain, for example, I thought about my friend Shannon and happy cried just because she’s so wonderful. I’m glad to feel so deeply.

We stopped at Tray Shelter for about an hour to eat lunch. I’m still sick of my food options, but my little jar of Nutella was a great motivator to make a dent in the rest of my meal. I’m looking forward to varying things up at my next resupply in Hiawassee. Between the blog comments here and talking to folks on trail, I have some ideas of new foods to try.

I finished the afternoon with another little hand and foot bath in a creek. You know when Sims wash their hands how their hygiene bar grows by like 5%? That’s how I feel.

Zoom for Mo.

Day 7: Addis Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap; 5.5 miles

Good morning, Internet. I’ve learned to dig my cathole in the evening while the ground is still warm and I can easily choose a “potty tree” for the night. Thanks, Teddy. It’s hard enough leaving the perceived safety of my tent at night to go to the bathroom without having to take the extra time to dig a 6–8” hole in the cold ground. Anyway, that was a useful tip last night.

I am so tired today. So very ready to rest tomorrow. It’s hot. I’m sweaty. My body is creating smells I didn’t know it was capable of creating. I’m still bored with my food options. But somehow, there’s absolutely nowhere I’d rather be.

I saw father-son duo Ethan and Matt again today! Or at least I think it was today… they’re working on finishing the Georgia section of the AT. How often are you in the middle of nowhere, yet know half the people you run into?

Once again, there’s nothing like a rumor of trail magic ahead to help me power through some steep ascents first thing out of camp. I’m grateful for the family that took care of us at Dick’s Creek Gap today. I ate my first cheeseburger in about eight years and it was really freaking good.

Lauren and I caught the free Hiawassee hiker shuttle into town for our resupply. I thought my mom would like that better than hitchhiking.

The shuttle is free!

Earlier in the day, I’d crossed paths with a man from Wisconsin. We bonded briefly over our Midwestern-ness and I learned he had family in the UP. When we got to Ingles in Hiawassee, I saw him again. We exchanged a few words and well wishes, then he found me a few aisles over because he wanted to buy my groceries! If you couldn’t guess my reaction by now, his offer brought me to tears. Thank you, Matt.

Heavy packs, happy hearts, can’t lose

Please ignore my dirty pre-shower fingernails and focus on the fact that INGLES HAS STARBUCKS!

I’d also like to thank Megan, Andrew, Kylie, and Edward for their generosity. A little goes a long way, and it means a lot that you’d think of me. I will pay it forward one day, promise.

Lauren and I found a campsite near Dick’s Creek Gap with a few others and plan to wake up early to get to Hostel Around the Bend for our zero.

Day 8: ZERO!

It started pouring just before 7am. The thunder cracked right over my head and I could hear it echo throughout the valley. It felt like the sky was breaking — a fun kind of scary.

The same family that provided trail magic yesterday set up shelter and breakfast for us this morning. Lauren had a 9am-I-survived-a-scary-night Coors Light (getting in those “Coorlories,” as her dad put it 😉), and I ate a bunch of clementines. Eventually, we walked down the street to the hostel in the rain.

We arrived soaked and immediately threw our clothes into the washer. My shower was glorious, but to be honest, no amount of scrubbing will completely get rid of the smell in just one wash. There are layers of dirt and sweat I need to work through, so for now I’ll just embrace the depth and complexity of my new aroma. But it was nice to let my hair down for the day and feel mostly clean.

We took the free shuttle into town again. Our first stop was to Trailful where we shipped a few items we no longer needed back home. I picked up a new BeFree, some postcards, and Burt’s Bees. Lauren found us new energy tabs to try. Then we went to Tilted Cafe for lunch, and Blazin’ Scoops for milkshakes.

Getting our greens in town

Also getting our milkshakes in town, now with clean fingernails.

Back at the hostel, Moon was teaching a painting class and Mun had just finished making sweet bread for everyone. I spent the evening talking with other hikers. Lauren and I met back up with Henry from Addis Gap and we bonded over our NCT dreams. I learned about Firefly’s triple crown attempt, and got to know Grommet and Ladybug. I also met another Morgan who happens to be a fellow Trek Blogger! Small world.

Signed the bus at Hostel Around the Bend — is that a trail name I see?!!!!!

The magic in the in-between. 

Day 9: Dick’s Creek Gap to Muskrat Shelter (hello, North Carolina!); 11.8 miles

Plantasia (formerly Lauren) and I scarfed down our waffles at Around the Bend and started our day at Dick’s Creek Gap around 7:30 am.

The first climb of the day is always a challenge for me, but after about thirty minutes of warming up, my legs felt strong again. What a difference it makes to start the day with energy rather than feeling tired from the get-go. Rest is important! Marathon, not a sprint 🙂

Plantasia among the plants

Thanks to a combination of ideas from Rocket Man and Steve from the comments on a previous blog post of mine (thanks!), I made a new concoction today at second breakfast: Powdered milk, Carnation instant breakfast, and powdered peanut butter in 700ml of water. It almost tasted like a smoothie and gave me more energy than water and Carnation alone.

I also had lots of momentum today because I knew I’d be crossing the border into North Carolina. Along the way, I ran into so many familiar faces — whether from hostel stays or just meeting along the AT. The trail is really starting to feel like family.

Our friend Neb was a few miles ahead of us all morning since he stayed at Plum Orchard Gap Shelter the night before. He waited for us at the border and cheered us on when we crossed it. I think that moment was when I realized that I could actually maybe see this trail through.

The three of us chilled out at the border, drinking water, eating snacks, and cheering on the hikers who came after us.

Finally, we decided to get a move on to the shelter we’d be staying at for the night. Those first three or so miles in NC were definitely a climb, but at the top was a stunning, winding walk with pretty views and patches of rhododendrons on both sides of the trail. I just took it slowly and stopped often for pictures and snacks. I’m starting to become more food-motivated. 🙂 

Tip for NOBOs: If you plan to stop at Muskrat, get your water for the night at the source 0.3 miles before the shelter. The water source at this shelter is a bit close to the privy for my liking.

Muskrat Shelter was pretty slopey, so a few of us set up camp at a site nearby along Raven Rock Trail. After dinner and hanging our food bags, we gathered to watch the sunset together. North Carolina welcomed us with a stunner that I won’t soon forget. It was the perfect way to celebrate another day on the Appalachian Trail.

After sunset, I had to take care of some chafing issues in my tent. My last piece of unsolicited advice for you today, dear reader: If your thighs touch anywhere and you’re thinking, “I’ll shave my legs one more time the night before I start my thru-hike,” resist the temptation. Ideally, grow it all out before you begin. The first few days of hair regrowth are prickly, itchy, and potentially chafe-y. I’m more than a week in now, and I’m noticing that my hair isn’t really growing where my thighs touch anymore. Fascinating. This is probably TMI for some of you (hello, former coworkers), but maybe it’ll be helpful to someone out there!

And on that note…

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Comments 6

  • Steve : Mar 18th

    Glad you found some instant milk. Walmart has jars of banana powder in the baking aisle, which might work with carnation strawberry flavor. Look in the salad dressing aisle near the imitation bacon bits for the shelf stable real bacon pieces. Dry Italian salami or Genoa salami are usually shelf stable til opened. Works well with crackers or bread. When fast food offers you packets of salt, pepper, mayo and maybe pickle relish, save them for chicken or tuna salad. After a few days in the woods, spam is surprisingly yummy straight from the can on crackers or pan fried. Best tip of all: never pass up tastykake fried pies, but you will need a plastic bin for them or they will get crushed.

    • Mo Wynne : Apr 6th

      Always look forward to your suggestions!! Thanks 🙂

  • Mary Wynne : Mar 19th

    Your last bit of advice cracked me up, but I am sure it is helpful to soon to be female hikers. Also…you are right! Thanks for taking the free shuttle! Love you, Mo! 😘❤️

  • Shannon : Mar 19th

    Honored to have gotten a mention!!!!! It’s so cool to see your progression through the blog posts – each one has a different feel and I can kinda feel your perspective and growth shifting through each post and I just love ya!!!!!!

    • Mo Wynne : Apr 6th

      Love ya!! Thanks for reading and being my friend!!

  • Marjori Wynne : Mar 19th

    Love,love, love reading your blogs. I check my e-mail every day for latest news from you


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