Days 12-15

Day 12

Winding stair gap to cold spring shelter

15.9 miles, mile 125.2

I slept for 10 hours like a rock last night. I was asleep by 8:30pm and woke up at 6:30am. It was clearly needed! Lots and lots of climbing today, about 4200 feet in elevation gain over the 15.9 miles. Tomorrow is looking to be about the same, if not a little more. We moved pretty quick, started hiking at 8:30 and got to camp at 4pm. We had some gorgeous views today at a fire tower. Kevin and I are tenting at the shelter, and there are 4 others sleeping in the shelter that we ran into yesterday and hiked with for a little bit today. They said they were going to have a fire in the fire pit tonight so we will probably head down for a little bit to enjoy it, we haven’t had anyone do a fire yet. It is so very buggy here so I’m hoping the smoke will clear some of them out. We couldn’t even eat outside our tents because the bugs were so bad. I guess that is to be expected in the woods in North Carolina though. Tomorrow we will have lunch at the NOC to look forward to, and then it will be a rough climb out of there. There is a shelter a little over 18 miles and 5200 feet of gain from here but I’m hoping we can find tentsites before then because that would be quite a long day, especially with a longer lunch break. If we stopped at the NOC it would only be 11.5 miles, and we need to be to Fontana Dam (mile 164) on the 13th so we need to do a little more mileage than that. As always, I’m hoping the fear of a bear sniffing around doesn’t keep me awake all night. Our food is hung, and it isn’t freezing, yay!

Day 13

Cold spring shelter to sassafras gap shelter

18.7 miles, mile 143.8

Whew today was tough. The quads will definitely be feeling it in the morning. We rushed the first 11.5 miles to get to the NOC and got there right around 12:45pm. There are a couple restaurants right there and we went to the first one we saw, they had gluten free pizza for an additional $2, and also each topping was $2, so I ended up just getting pepperoni. Our waitress was around my age and was so nice that she didn’t even charge me for the gluten free crust since it isn’t my fault I have to eat it. She was so nice and told us to be safe a bunch of times. The group we were hiking with the other day stayed at the NOC and are zeroing tomorrow so we won’t see them for a bit since they’ll be a day behind us. My goal is to do three bigger days so on Saturday we have a shorter day into Fontana dam and can relax all afternoon before going into the smokies. The climb out of the NOC was alllllll uphill. Over the 18.7 miles today we had over 5,000 feet of elevation gain and 5,500 feet of loss. This is more than any day hike I’ve done in NH, mileage and elevation wise. We were at a fire tower earlier in the day and it reminded me a lot of Mt. Carrigain. There was a man from Switzerland thru hiking that we talked to for a bit there. When Kevin and I got to the shelter it took us a very long time to hang our food bags, it was quite difficult to find a good tree branch here. I think tomorrow will be around 15 miles, but we will need to see how we feel in the morning.

Day 14

Sassafras gap shelter to cable gap shelter

15.4 miles, mile 159.2

I slept last night! Not amazingly but it’s something! We didn’t rush out of camp this morning knowing we had all day to hike 15.4 miles. It was supposed to rain in the morning and thunderstorm in the afternoon but it only started to rain around 4:30 and we got to camp around 5:45. We had sun most of the day which was a nice surprise from the weather that had said otherwise. There were a couple places with a little bit of a view, but it was mostly woods up and down all day. On days like this I try to find the beauty in all the green in the woods and pay extra attention to the little wild flowers around the trail and the little birds flying about. There were some pretty purple flowers today that I remember.

A couple days back when I was really sick, I met two girls from Maine who were super nice. I think in one of my posts I mentioned them and that they were the first other women thru hikers that I met! When we were taking a break today they caught up behind us and instantly asked how I was doing and that they heard we went to haiawassee which was nice of them to check in. We hiked with them the last couple miles to camp, it’s nice to have some New England girls around my age out here too. We also met a woman from Germany who is absolutely booking it! She seems really cool. I’m excited for a very short 5 mile day tomorrow and a shower, it’s crazy how much I absolutely stink. I already feel bad for our shuttle driver tomorrow! There is no service here at camp tonight so I’m glad I have my zoleo to let my family know I’m okay. My quads are a bit sore after the bigger day yesterday and my knee was feeling a bit tender so I wore a compression brace today and it definitely helped.

Day 15

Cable gap shelter to Fontana Dam

5.1 miles, mile 164.3

A nice short day today! We got into Fontana Dam around 11 this morning and I got some Snickers, chocolate milk, and fuel. There is absolutely no cell service there, so the store had to call the Fontana dam resort to send the shuttle to get us. We got here and had to walk a decent way to the laundromat where I sat in my rain coat and shorts eating a pint of strawberry ice cream waiting for our $6 load of laundry to finish up. We can’t check in here until 4pm so we are sprawled out (smelling horrible might I add) on some couches downstairs taking full advantage of the wifi. Ethan and my mom are going to be coming next weekend so I’ll need to plan out my miles to know exactly where we will be in a week from now! We are entering the smokies tomorrow which I am not super excited for. There are no privys in the Tennessee section of trail, and the smokies bounce back and fourth between NC and TN. Apparently people aren’t the best at digging their catholes and noro virus is pretty prevalent through this section. Fingers crossed we come out unscathed. The elevation is looking to be a lot too, I think tomorrow we will aim for 16.5 miles with about 5000 feet of gain. I am so very excited to check in and be able to take a nice hot shower soon. I’ve finally been sleeping better these last couple nights, I hope that trend continues for me!

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.

Comments 1

  • Sarah : May 13th

    Damn, stop complaining so much, you’re on an extended vacation in the great outdoors!


What Do You Think?