No pain, no rain, no Maine
Day 8: We woke up nice and dry in our hotel room in Hiwassee, GA and watched the rain pour down outside. Although it was tempting to pull a double zero and stay in our nice dry beds, we set out to the trail. The rain only lasted an hour or two, which was awesome. We quickly learned that the main issue with rain is not exactly being wet or cold, it’s sweating under all the rain gear. It wasn’t long before I took off my rain pants and my hood and just let myself get wet. It was so much better to be wet from rain than from sweat. After a couple climbs made it to Tray Mountain Shelter and picked a campsite with a view on the edge of the cliff….. Only ten minutes after we set up our tents a giant cloud engulfed the mountain and the view was gone. At 4200 feet up, we spent the night literally in a cloud – which was kind of eerie, but REALLY cool. There was a little bit of rain as we slept, but nothing our tents couldn’t handle!
Day 9: It poured all night, but we woke up nice and dry in our tents. The pitter padder of rain against a tent rain cover is SO peaceful that it made it hard to get out of my sleeping bag, but I finally got out of bed and had to deal with a bigger issue: my feet. Hiking has honestly been a struggle because of how much pain my feet are in every time I move. We have been getting very low miles in, which has been VERY frustrating. The rest of my body feels strong and ready to conquer 15+ mile days, but my feet are holding everything back. I asked a few of my fellow thru hikers what they have been doing about blisters/ aching/ swelling, and put a few of their suggestions to work. Their tricks were working for about half the day, but after that I decided to just throw on my camp sandals to hike. We hiked from Tray Mountain Shelter to Deep Gap Shelter, which was a really cool shelter with a loft and front porch. Overall it was a pretty good day – very warm, good climbs, and only a little bit of rain around dinner time!
Day 10: Today we were shooting to go back to Hiawassee and get new boots to (finally) resolve my feet issues. After a few calls to local stores however, it became clear that no one in the small town sells hiking footwear. With this in mind we took measures into our own hands and sliced out parts of my boots with a knife. My feet have been swelling from all the walking (which is normal for thru hikers) and it appears that I need a wide boot to accommodate for the size increase. My baby toe actually started to turn flat from all the pressure of being squeezed in the boot (I have pictures, but decided to not gross everyone out). Slicing the boots and letting my feet breathe was apparently all it took because we were able to crank out a 8.1 mile day and hike from Deep Gap to Pulmorchard Gap, which was the largest distance we have been able to cover since the foot issue really got bad! It was a really pretty hike as we enjoyed our last day in Georgia!
Day 11: This was a day of firsts. To start, it was our first day hiking entirely in the rain. We woke up to a huge storm so we slept a little bit later in an effort to wait it out, but it didn’t stop so we just packed up our wet things and started hiking towards the Georgia/ North Carolina border (our first state line)! It rained all day, however the first 7 miles weren’t too bad. We were under trees for the most part, and the rain was being kept off of us by our rain gear. The last 5 miles were a little bit different: it literally down poured for two and a half hours straight. By the time we got to Standing Indian Shelter every inch of our bodies and gear were wet. Usually, we pitch our tents right next to the shelter, but we were so wet, cold, and tired that we decided to sleep in the shelter for the first time. We knew everyone in the shelter that night, so we all squeezed together like sardines and stayed warm throughout the storm. It was also the first day that I was able to hike without foot pain so we cranked out a really good 12.2 mile day. It felt great to finally be able to hike again!
Day 12: It poured rain from 7pm to 6:30am and then suddenly…. It was SUNNY! It was the first time all week we saw the sun and it felt amazing. We had a nice hike from Standing Indian Shelter to Betty Creek Gap. SO THANKFUL for a dry day to really air everything out. We hiked a good 11.3 miles and stopped a little early to leave time for some of our gear to dry out in the sun.
Day 13: We woke up early and cranked out the 12.6 miles from Betty Creek to Winding Stair Gap by 2:30. The terrain was really nice, which made for a really pleasant day of hiking. We also reached the 100 mile mark of the AT on Albert Mountain! The climb up was awesome because we were literally climbing giant rocks straight up the side of the mountain. The view from the top was amazing, and reaching the 100 mile mark made it even better. We continued down the trail, and from the gap we called for a ride into a small town in North Carolina. Since it was Sunday in the south, 95% of the businesses in town were closed, but we managed to find the Lazy Hiker Brewery and a local sports bar to hangout at (Both of which were awesome).
Day 14: We took a zero in town and spent time sleeping in, eating lots of food, and resupplying for the next leg of the trip! My mom was awesome and mailed over a spare pair of boots I had at home, so hopefully this will be the end of all foot problems!
Final thoughts on state #1: Georgia is an entirely underrated state when it comes to hiking. The state is gorgeous, and boasts thousands of acres of wilderness. In this state, the trail brings you straight up to the very top of a mountain (most of the time with no view), just to bring you immediately back down, and then straight up another mountain. You are literally always climbing or descending a mountain – the trail is never straight or flat. It is both mentally and physically exhausting at times, which may be why a good amount of people who attempt a thru hike don’t even make it out of Georgia. The state has taught me a lot, and I am so thankful for all the beautiful things we got to see while hiking through it. 1 down, 13 to go!
Miles completed: 109.8
Miles to go: 2079.4
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