Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Be a Cow?

Day 4: 3,130 ft ascent, 12.8 mi

We woke up this morning with thunderstorms still pounding the roof. They were forecasted to be moving out of the area by mid-morning. My boyfriend Erik and I decided to wait out the rain in the cabin, but my dad wanted to try out his rain gear so he headed out early in the peak of the storm. I took a picture of him before he left so I could have my ‘have you seen this man?’ photo ready to go. He later told us he had the trail to himself. Imagine that.

Once Erik and I got on the trail, after the sun was shining, we had a beautiful day with view after view after view. It was a welcome change after we missed the views on Blood Mountain.

We intended to meet my dad at Low Gap Shelter, but by the time we showed up it was tent city. It appeared many people had gotten off the trail to avoid the rain the night before and had the same destination in mind. Instead of trying to squeeze in on uneven ground, we left my dad there and went another 1.5 miles to another campsite on our map. It was a really windy and cold night, making for restless sleep.

Day 5: 3,880 ft ascent, 13.7 mi

I was excited in the morning to get started. I knew we were going to hike a section of trail I had done last fall for a shakedown hike (Unicoi Gap to Blue Mountain Shelter). When I saw the elevation profile for our planned distance, I quickly got less excited. A slow climb most of the morning, then 2 steep climbs to end the day. Ready or not legs, there’s only one way to get to Maine.

Our group starts early, with my dad generally leaving between 6-6:15 and Erik and I heading out shortly after we have morning coffee. This is earlier than most around our pace so we don’t pass too many hikers.

We encountered some more trail magic at Unicoi Gap, where I turned down McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts for a banana and Gatorade. I thanked myself for that decision later in the day.

The two big climbs were brutal. As we neared the top of the second one I started counting my steps to pass the time. We made it to the top and our destination for the night. We got a tip from comments on our trail guide to follow a path from the trail to some additional campsites We were rewarded with our best campsite yet! We had a space to ourselves away from the trail in the middle of a rhododendron patch. We followed the trail a bit further to a rock outcropping where Erik and I watched the sunset. That moment made the climbs of the day worth it.

Day 6: 2,430 ft ascent, 11 mi

Erik had some packages in Hiawassee to pick up, so we got up at our normal time and got on trail early. Our goal was to make the 2:30pm shuttle into town. Hiawassee sponsors a free shuttle for hikers in March and April! Three times a day they pick up and drop back off from two different locations on the trail.

When we started  that morning, we got rained on (off and on) for an hour or so. As we were hiking my dad said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be a cow? They can walk, eat, and poo all at the same time.” Leave it to my dad to find a solution to getting more done during the day.  I’m glad thru-hikers aren’t cows or the trails would have a lot more… hazards… to avoid.

We found a campsite about half a mile from the road and set up camp mid-day. My dad stayed behind with Jake, while Erik and I headed into town for the first time on the hike.

Our shuttle driver told us the local mayor hosts ‘Mayor Mondays’ where she feeds hikers hamburgers and hot dogs in the town square from 3-5 because most of the restaurants in town are closed on Mondays. Noted.

Our first stop in town: Dominos. We both got our own gluten free pizzas. Then we went all over town picking up and mailing packages. Our trek around town passed through town square, so we obviously had to eat another meal and thank Mayor Liz for her hospitality!

Our adventure also took us past a Dairy Queen. Everything was fine until we saw the Dairy Queen. That was where our hunger got the best of us. Both of us crashed mid-way through some ice cream and were dead for the shuttle ride and hike back to camp. It’s going to be awhile until Dairy Queen sounds good again.

Day 7: 560 ft ascent, 1.6 mi

Town day! We broke camp late and took the 10am shuttle into town, Jake the dog included! We walked to the laundromat, where the locals gave me all the strange looks. I walked around wearing only shorts, a raincoat, and bright orange crocs as the rest of my clothes were getting washed. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Town Day(s) Observations:

  1. Erik and I both almost got ran over after we got off of the shuttle at the local grocery store the first day. We had quickly forgotten how to behave around cars.
  2. The grocery store was… overwhelming. After the solitude of the woods, the lights and colors were very stimulating.
  3. We didn’t stay in town, but it was easy to see how quickly you could spend money in town between groceries, food, and lodging.
  4. You think a lot more about what you’re going to buy for groceries when you have to carry it for the next 3 days.
  5. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?