Tag Archives: Georgia

The First Hundred Miles (Part 2)

Photo 04.03.18, 09 17 36 (2)

I continued to hike through Georgia I thought I would never make it to the boarder. I was slowly making head way. I could feel my legs had gain some strength from when I started out. I wouldn’t tire as easily as before. I was really curious as to how different the woods were going to change. I couldn’t wait to see the trees in full bloom too. Many hours later I finally made it across the boarder. I finally made it further than the 20% of the people who try this. In my opinion this is one of the many great accomplishments along the AT. Hiking this far with all the difficulties I had to deal with and encounter. It definitely changed the way I tackle things and my approach to challenges the trail gives you.

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Photo 04.03.18, 12 58 53 (1)

I continued on hiking as the evening started to come near. I few hikers that were hiking along with me ended up staying at Muskrat Creek Shelter. I decided to goto the next shelter up. I got about halfway there when I passed some hikers coming the opposite way. I asked them if they knew how much further the shelter was. They said it was up a ways but it was going to be crowded. I thought nothing of it. I have my tent after all. I proceeded forward. About an hour later I was almost to the shelter but I was getting tired not to mention the sun was starting to setting. So, I found a camp site a mile outside of the shelter I was figured on staying at. I heard people talking about solo camping and I was about to get a taste of it. 

I set my tent up on the flattest spot I could find. While I was setting up my tent I noticed a chipmunk on a dead tree about 15ft/4.5m checking me out as to what I was doing. I paid no attention to the little guy. I got everything set up and I crawled in the tent and sat there, thinking. What do I do now? Normally there are people to talk to but there is no one. I quickly got in my sleeping bag before my mind started playing tricks on me which I was already too late. I laid there waiting to goto sleep. Knowing I couldn’t goto sleep because my guard was up and I was getting stressed out. I smoked some weed hoping that would help me relax. One thing I have learned in my meditation is that deep breathing can relax you very quickly. I guess that’s why they tell people with high anxiety to breath deep so they can calm down. So I started deep breathing. I slowly started to feel by body relax. I heard the wind outside blowing and the leaves rustling. I tried to block it from my mind but I couldn’t seem to. I was getting more relaxed yet I kept hearing noises outside the tent. Paranoia starting to toy with me. Thinking that there was a large animal outside my tent. I kept hearing the leaves move around quickly then stop then go again then stop. I didn’t know what was out there but I kept my eyes closed and tried to focus on my breathing. I had the childlike mentality, out of site out of mind. The leaves got louder and louder. I knew something was coming up to my tent and fast. I just laid there frozen not knowing what I should do. Then all of a sudden something hit the tent behind my head. I quickly hit the tent wall behind my head and stayed there. Frozen with paranoia. My blood started pumping and my heart started racing. I started to try and rationalize what happened and what the hell hit the tent wall. Was my mind making it all up?  As I laid there thinking as to what it could have been I started doing some deep breathing to calm me down and get me to think clearer. In my amazement I ended up thinking it was that chipmunk that was checking me out. Not sure what to make of the tent he was probably cautiously coming to the tent. When he his the tent I scared him by hitting the wall back. I didn’t hear any more noises other than what the wind was doing to the leaves. 

I woke up with the shining of a somewhat full moon. I wasn’t sure what time it was since it was cold and my phone wasn’t working right. Lithium batteries hate cold wether. I laid there for a few minutes mentally preparing myself for the day. I was going to get my first 100m/160km and there was going to be a really steep incline I would have to overcome too, Mt. Albert. I got out of my sleeping bag and made some oatmeal. I quickly ate that and started packing everything up. I got out of the tent and the woods looked tremendous. The moon was bright enough to cast a shadow over the trees. I heard an owl hooting as I started getting my tent all packed away. I got back on the path and then a funny thought came to my mind. What if I only slept a few hours and because of the situation the few hours prior to sleeping, I woke up because of nerves or if it was a few hours before sunrise. I stood there thinking. Was my mind making that all up or is the sun really about to come up? I said they hell with it. If it is 22:00 and only got a few hours sleep then I guess this is going to be one long day. I started hiking again and trying to figure out the time cause it was really messing with my mind. After about an hour of hiking I started seeing some light in the distance. I was glad to see the sun. I was looking forward to warmer weather. 

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The more I hiked the more it seemed like I kept going up. When would this madness stop? I spoke to soon. Blood Mountain was the first difficult obstacle on the AT. Mt. Albert (5,250ft/1,600m) was the steepest incline the trail has thrown me. Forget using trekking poles. This is more hands on but a bit more difficult seeing my backpack has my balance off. Nevertheless I conquered it took a much needed break afterwards. 

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Photo 05.03.18, 12 43 44

I ended up hiking 17.2m/27.6km that day and stopped at Long Branch Shelter. I started a fire and slowly hikers started walking in. They all could smell the smoke of the fire. There was some rain coming in that didn’t hit until later that night. I didn’t care. I was dry and warm in my sleeping bag. Some hikers and I saw that the rain was going to stop around noon so we just stayed there waiting it out. When the rain stopped we were the only ones that were not wet. Everybody else had hiked in the rain. We were almost to Wallace Gap where there was a shuttle that would take us to Franklin NC. We were very much looking forward to a buffet. 

To Hiawassee

The next morning I woke up and hit the alarm. I wasn’t ready to hike in the rain. Perhaps it’ll stop in an hour. An hour later the buzzing begins. I hit the alarm again and stretch. I get out of bed and get my socks and pants on. I can’t wait to have a big breakfast before my hike starts. I get in the kitchen and start cooking the bacon. About eight strips total. Later I use the bacon grease for cooking the eggs. I’m sure I’ll have this all burned off me within a day or two. As the food is cooking I’m slowly getting other things packed up and ready to go. Fifteen minutes later breakfast is served. As I eat I hear the rain outside. It’s a light rain. I didn’t mind hiking in that. I finish my food and wash the dishes. I clean up as much as possible. Packed the last bit of stuff. Got my rain jacket on and headed out the door. I went up to the main office to see the weather for the day and the next few days. Looks like I have a big rain storm coming in fast. I check my book to see how far I’m planning on hiking. Rain is going to be coming in around 11 that morning. I need to get to Low Gap shelter before then. One thing I have noticed while hiking the AT is that once I get in my head how far I’m going to go, that’s all I think about. Getting there as quickly as possible. I left the porch with the WiFi and I hit the trail. With my headlamp on and my rain jacket over top half of my body I started out into the rainy darkness.

Watching each step cause I didn’t want to slip. It takes me a second to figure out where the trail goes next but once I do it doesn’t take long to get back in the swing of things. The rain comes and goes as does the fog. My mind starts playing with me as my paranoia starts to kick in. As I’m hiking I’m thinking that there is some big animal out there just stalking me. Waiting for the best time to jump out and kill me. When in reality, there is nothing out there I really need to worry.

I come to a road that I need to cross. This road looks like your typical road in the mountains. Parking lot across the street with a sign of different paths along the way. I see a hiker in the fog waiting for a car to hitch a ride. I chat with him for a few minutes. Found out he hiked the AT before and now he just does sections. He tells me it’s not much further to the next shelter, Low Gap. The shelter I’m hurrying to get to. I check the time. It’s 10 o’clock and I have to get there quick. I try to get a good pace going but it’s hard to when the terrain keeps changing from up to down hill. Before I knew it it started raining. The first big rain storm of my hike. It’s fun but horrible at the same time. As the rain comes down so does the temperature. I try and keep a decent pace regardless of how hard the rain comes down. By 12:30 I’m drenched. I quickly get in the shelter and start finding warmer things to put on. One of the things I put on is Columbia’s Omni heat thermals . The way this works is it reflects your body heat back on you. I put on my other set of clothes. Not long after I do this then four other hikers come up seeking shelter from the rain. They do the same thing shedding the wet clothes for some dry ones and start getting ready for the night. About an hour later of talking about their hiking experience a few more hikers pile in. Then a few more and then a few more. Before I knew it we had over ten tents set up and a full shelter. The hikers than came in shortly after I did, put up a tarp at the main opening of the shelter. Since it was windy and we had wet cloths we didn’t want to freeze during the night and hoped our clothes would dry off. I knew at that moment there wasn’t going to be any time

I couldn’t dry my clothes with the cold weather we’ve been having. I looked in my AT thru hiker book and saw there was a shuttle that would take you in town, Hiawassee.

The next morning most of the people in the shelter started packing their stuff. I woke up from hearing all the commotion. Since I didn’t get much sleep that night. I decided to do the same thing. It was a lot colder than my sleeping bag was rated (40f/4.4C) plus I had my new sleeping liner in there, a Rumpl blanket and my thermals on which helped the lower part of my body. The top half kept getting cold. No need to lay here freezing. Might as well get back to hiking. At least that way I can get my blood flowing again and warm up that way. With a few wet bags of clothes and my wet backpack I started hiking to Low Gap. I knew I could make it there by noon. A town was near by so I could resupply, dry my cloths, backpack and take a shower. At this point they all sounded amazing. After about an hour of hiking the sun started to rise up in the distance. The sky had a few clouds which helped reflect the light hitting it. I wish I had an awesome view where trees weren’t blocking the sun so I could get a few pictures. It was tremendous with all the colors of orange, dark blue, light blue, red and to top it all off I saw some pretty huge lakes in the distances from where I was walking. I didn’t even know they were there. I must have gone 2-3 miles/4.83 km and started feeling a lot better. I’m not sure if it was what I was looking forward to in a few hours, the sunrise or that I was finally warming up then again it perhaps it was all three.

I started going down hill quite a ways before I realized that I was near the road to go into town. As I kept ascending down I noticed a old van with a guy in it just sitting there. I start to think that this is either the shuttle or someone waiting for a church group. As I crossed the street the large man came out of the van. I asked him if I could get a ride in town. The other hikers I was with decided to keep moving forward. I’d figured I would catch up with them tomorrow. For now a nice shower and food was calling my name. So I dropped my bag off in the back of the van and sat in the front. I was off to Hiawassee.