We had a decision to make today. We could take it really easy and to to Unicoi Gap from Low Gap shelter — 10 miles over two days — or push it through 26 miles by Saturday morning, which includes climbing Rocky and Tray mountains at 1000 foot plus high each. After resting for lunch seven miles in at the Blue Mountain shelter, we opted for the big push to Cheese Factory campsite. We arrived at Unicoi Gap at 15:30 and saw Flynn, who we had tented by at Low Gap shelter. We were also greeted by a pair of trail angels with apples, tangerines, snacks, sodas, and water refills. They live in the Highlands in Atlanta and had a sweet Chocolate Lab named Springer.
After resting and eating, we headed into our first 1000 foot climb up Rocky Mountain. The view from the back side of the mountain was fantastic, with a clear view of Brasstown Bald and Helen. We took pictures of each other there, then ascended to the base of Tray Mountain to start the 400 foot climb to the Cheese Factory campsite. There were only three other hikers there, which is totally different than being near a shelter.
Tomorrow we crest Tray Mountain and stay ten miles from here near the Deep Gap shelter. That leaves us a short three-mile hike on Saturday to Dicks Creek Gap to meet Karen for food and gear exchanges, then we’ll stay in the new Top of Georgia hostel on Saturday night. North Carolina, here we come!
What a fantastic day for backpacking the AT! The weather was great today. We got on the trail at 9:15, leaving the Cheese Factory campsite and climbing Tray Mountain to find great views of Brasstown Bald Mountain. We stopped at the Tray Mountain shelter, met a few thru hikers and signed the logbook. This was the first time that I signed with my new trail name, Buzz. Bennett is still waiting for her trail name to be assigned.
On the descent from Tray we met a trail angel with bananas, bacon, sodas, water, and a nice dog. He had been there overnight in his 60-year-old pull trailer.
We hiked about ten miles, ending with the hardest climb in Georgia — 700 feet up Kelly Knob. We arrived at the Deep Gap shelter around 14:30 and set up our tent and hammock. I took my first nap of the trip for three hours this afternoon.
For dinner we ate two Pasta Sides. The food we have left could carry us over about two more days. When we see Karen “Couch Control” tomorrow, we’ll get four more days of food to get us Franklin, NC.
The guys we are camped near at the Low Gap shelter are all in their 20s and between part time jobs. There is a German with the trail name Confused who’s hiking a mixed dog, part Irish Wolfhound, which he flew here with him. The dog’s paws are the size of lion’s paws. Confused and I talked for a while, and he is a part-time Geocacher back home. We shared stories of hard geocaches that we had found.
As I lay here writing my sixth log, I can’t get over how unique this voyage is, especially spending it with Bennett. The owls are sounding off together again tonight, for the second evening. As I complete writing this, all I can think of is seeing Karen. It is a short three-mile hike down to Dicks Creek Gap, where she’ll pick us up and take us over for an early check in at the Top of Georgia hostel. We’ll trade out some gear and get the food. take a trip into Hiawassee for lunch and gear shopping, then head back to the hostel.
Whoo, whoo, whoo.