Hippie Mode Activated

Week 2 – What’s that smell?

Surely it isn’t me, I just showered…  Yep, the sniff test verrified it was me.  At this point, I’m still not used to the body odor and funk that comes with thru hiking. But, I’m sure that’ll come with time.

Day 8 – Chattahoochee Gap to Unicoi Gap

Hiked just short of 5 miles into Unicoi Gap. Last mile or so was very steep descent.

Our first trail angles, Tim and Jan gave us hot dogs.  Plan was to hitch into Helen today and zero tomorrow.  Tim said there was a woman named HerShe or Hershey (not sure how she spells it) that might give us a ride.  I placed my pack in the back seat and trekking poles on the floorboard between some boxes.

Dad and I with Hershe

Great conversation during drive to town, checked in early at Helendorf Inn.  The other group checking in, which was a large family, didn’t appreciate our smell by the way they were whispering to each other.  Dropped gear and grabbed lunch next to the river at The Troll.

Went back to room, showered and did laundry.  Elevated legs and feet, went back out for dinner at the Bodensee Restaurant, enjoyed some traditional German music, large salad, jager schnitzel, and a Hefeweizen.

Reached out to my Uncle Greg, who lives in GA and was already planning on coming out to Helen to visit us.  Asked if he could drive us up to Franklin because the sides of my heels are rubbing and not enjoying the Topo shoes I have. Theres a huge outfitters named Outdoor 76 that has a wide selection of shoes and very knowledgeable staff.  I’ve had Leuko tape on my heels for the past 4 days to prevent blisters.  No blisters thankfully.

After getting back to our room, I realized I had left my trekking poles in HerShe’s car. I posted messages on the FarOut app, hoping she would get in touch with me.  During our ride to town, she mentioned she might head up to Franklin tomorrow for the hiker event going on.

Enjoying a zero day in Franklin tomorrow, thanks to Uncle Greg.  Who knows, might be leaving with a new pair of shoes and either my old pair of trekking poles or a brand new set.

Day 9 – Zero day in Helen, GA. Aka “German town”

My Uncle Greg drove out to hang out with us and was even nice enough to drive us up to Franklin, NC to visit the shoe gurus at Outdoor 76.  During the drive me made stops at Unicoi Gap, Dicks Creek Gap, and the Lazy Hiker Brewery searching for Hershe and my trekking poles.  She had mentioned those were the three places she might be the next day during our ride into Helen… no luck.

Spoke to shoe gurus and ended up with the Hoka Stinson 7’s with the recommendation to go without my super feet inserts.  Very scary thought because I’ve used them in all my shoes for the past 15 years or so.  They sent my old, Topo Traverse’s and inserts south to their other store in Clayton, GA, where I could take a zero and reassess my feet and shoes.  If I needed my old ones back I’d be able to pick them up.

We ate some really good bbq at Fat Buddies.  Wasn’t able to track down Hershe or my sticks, so on the way back down to Helen, we stopped at the Outdoor 76 in Clayton and I bought new ones.  My old shoes and inserts were already there.  Later that day I soaked my feet in the river that runs through town while enjoying a Hefeweizen.

Zwei grosse bier, bitte! Prost! Basically the only thing I remember from high school German class.

Day 10 – Unicoi Gap to Steeltrap Gap

Got up and ate some oatmeal and Jimmy Dean sausages wrapped in pancakes at the hotel. Walked to the north end of town to get a hitch back to Unicoi Gap.  Got a ride from Jim, trail name “Not a Bear” who was also an Army Vet. He is an ultramarathoner who was already heading to Unicoi to run some of the trail.

As we pulled into the parking lot at Unicoi we saw HerShe’s car.  I’m not sure who was more excited, me or her, but she was waiting for me to give me back my trekking poles.  That morning I had told Dad, that I felt like I’d see my poles again at some point.  The trail provides for sure!

Since I had bought a replacement set of poles the day before, I strapped them to the sides of my pack, hoping I could return them once I got back to Clayton in two days.  We were immediately welcomed by a nice steep climb over Rocky Mountain.  Later that day we had lunch mid way up Tray Mountain.  We set up camp at Steeltrap Gap.

Dad and I with Not a Bear. He’s an ultramarathon runner who trains on the AT.

Day 11 – Steeltrap Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap

Hiked 9.3 miles today, last 2.5 were all downhill. Passed the Swag of the Blue Ridge, stopped for lunch at the stream near Deep Gap Shelter. This shelter is a big one that has two levels.Tried to get a glimpse of the eclipse as the clouds blew by, was able to get one decent photo.  Right before we got to Dick’s Creek Gap, I sat on a little green bench and watched Dad get water.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to work out a way to get to the GA/NC border with him without pushing myself too far too soon.  Also, I needed to resupply.  Dad really wanted a picture at the border, so he had to camel up on the water and camp a half a mile past the gap.  Then the next day, he’d hike to the border and back track 3 miles south in order for Mom and I to pick him up at Blue Ridge Gap.  I would be taking a zero day the very next day to resupply for the next long leg to Franklin.

Last official pic with Dad on trail

I got a hitch from a guy that was headed to Columbia, SC.  He dropped me off at the high class Days Inn in Clayton, GA.  Got to my room to find hair on the pillow, dirty comforter, and urine on the toilet.  Even though there was a strip of paper across the toilet lid that said “Sanitized”.   I’ve stayed in worse places and wasn’t expecting a Ritz Carlton, so I walked down to the Currahee Brewing Company.  I met Ryan, who worked there and had a great conversation with him while trying out their hazy IPA and Hefe.  Great beer, highly recommend stopping by.  Then I had a burger at Universal Joint, went back to the room and crashed.

ATTENTION ALL HIKERS GOING THRU GA:  Highly recommend heading to Clayton, GA.  Everything you need is in a centralized location.  Outdoor 76, restaurants, lodging, grocery store, laundry, and a brewerey.  I’ll go into more detail about how great the Outdoor 76 is in the next blog, but their entire staff is super knowledgeable.  So, go pay Bill a visit, you  won’t be disappointed. Promise!

Heads up… trying out a different format for a while

Day 12 – Zero Day in Clayton, GA

Stayed at Days Inn again.

Rainy day.

Walked over to Starbucks for breakfast, then to the laundromat.  Wore rain jacket and pants while attempting to wash the stank out of clothes. No luck, hippie level continues to increase.

Mom drove up to pick up Dad after he finished the GA section, I went with.

Had lunch at with Mom at Universal Joint

Dad beat me to the GA/NC border.  Initially going into this, I was pretty concerned about him hiking.  I had sent him exercises to do, but nope, he didn’t do them.  He did walk a lot more than I thought he had, which helped out a ton.  Extremely proud of him for completing the GA section of the AT.  It’s not an easy task and he could definitely take on the thru hike in the future.

Went back to same place for dinner after we got Dad, but not before he showered at my hotel room.

He made it!!!

Day 13 – Dick’s Creek Gap to Plum Orchard Shelter

Short but very steep day.

Guess this was kind of like a nero, a low mileage day.

This’ll set me up to shelter hop for the next leg to Franklin, NC.

Set up tent even though I knew it was going to rain. Still trying to avoid shelters and norovirus.

Got in tent as it started raining.

Day 14 – Plum Orchard Gap Shelter to Muskrat Creek Shelter

Still raining, everything is wet, ate and packed up.

Rained like crazy all day’

Most elevation gain in a day so far. 7.5 miles basically uphill entire day.

Crossed into NC, goodbye GA!

Wasn’t going to set up wet tent so squeezed into the shelter.  7 of us shoulder to shoulder.  Says it sleeps 8, don’t know how.

Was warm and dry though.

I made it too!!!

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Comments 2

  • Dave squared. Trail name : Apr 19th

    I hiked the AT last year only bought 3 pairs of shoes. Trabuco Max 2 by Asics. They run small but one size up. You need a 11 buy a 12. Best trail shoes you will ever have.

    • Keith Owens : Apr 19th

      Thanks, I’ll have to check them out.


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