Today we departed the Top of Georgia hostel at 8:15. It is a 1/2 mile walk from there up Hwy 76 to Dicks Creek Gap. By the time we got to the trail, it had started raining. We threw on rain gear and pack covers and hit the trail by 8:45. We made good time on the rolling mountains, completing 4.4 miles in a couple of hours.
We snacked along the way and passed the North Carolina state line before noon. Shortly after the state line crossing, we came to the most photographed tree on the AT and got our picture taken by fellow hiker Stealth. We covered about 12 miles today, arriving at the Muskrat Creek shelter at 14:30, the third there behind Stealth.
We grabbed a couple of spots by the right wall while the mist and drops continued outside. We put on warm clothes as others arrived. By the time everyone was in from different locations, there were six in the shelter, twelve in tents, and one on the ground in the shelter.
Dinner was a chicken Pasta Side with chopped chicken, which was delicious, warm, and filling. We got a fire started, and I wandered up on the hill above the shelter by myself to meditate and write this as the sun set in the west. It is getting chilly now up here, so I will send this update off and go back to the fire.
We’re in our second state!
We woke this morning in the Muskrat Creek shelter with about a third of the campsite up and packing or cooking. Everything was frozen, including my water dromedary hose. I had cold cereal with powdered milk. We packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed north on our second week on the trail, first full day in NC, and a planned 12 mile day to the Carter Gap shelter. We made good time climbing Standing Indian Mountain, passing a few thru hikers that had left our shelter earlier.
We had a great lunch on top of Standing Indian in the warming sun, as the temperatures rose above freezing. I had two tortilla shells with peanut butter and trail mix. We then headed down the three mile descent of Standing Indian. We crossed a fire road where a couple of spotty thru-hikers [ones who skip the tough sections] were wondering if a car would come along eventually to pick them up for a ride to Franklin, NC, which we found amusing. After throwing out our trash in some bear proof cans there, we started the climb toward Carter Gap.
We arrived at the shelter behind Stealth at about 15:00. We taped up the blisters on our feet while discussing continuing another 3.7 miles to Betty Creek Gap. We voted to continue, and Stealth and Inflammable from Montreal joined us. I grabbed the fire starter newspapers from the shelter on the way out. Snow is expected tomorrow morning.
It was a surreal first mile or so along a Rhododendron-lined mountain ridge, our boots running along a well-trodden path ditch. The ribbon of trail was interrupted by an opening to the right leading to a fantastic 180 degree view of mountain ranges cascading across and away into the distance. Bennett took her first panoramic picture. We were taking pictures of each other when Stealth and Inflammable showed up for more picture taking.
We breathed in the view for a few more minutes and headed down to Betty Creek Gap. We arrived there at 16:40, set up our camp, and made delicious Ramen with chicken for dinner. About ten thru-hikers stayed in the camp. After dinner, we hung our bear bags and joined five others around the fire while the other hikers went to sleep. We enjoyed the fire for a couple of hours, watching Michigan Tech use it to make his concoctions for dinner. It was a fun time, and we joked until the wood ran out and darkness had fallen.
Bennett and I turned in looking forward to our visit the Outdoor 76 store in Franklin tomorrow. I need a new pack cover and warm liner for my 40 degree sleeping bag. We are also meeting our first shipped box of supplies and food. I’ll be getting my thicker, longer air pad, my Crocs for lighter camp shoes, and a better rain jacket. YAHOO!