Two: Leaving Georgia - entering North Carolina
April 17th, 1983
I woke this morning to the sounds of several Junco's tweeting and
looking for food just outside the shelter. The temperature was quite
brisk, and a dusting of snow had accumulated quietly on the ground
as I slept last night. I had slept soundly and peacefully. This
was the first time that I had been alone in a trail shelter so far;
and this is what I had envisioned the hike being in the years preceding
this hike. I've been on the trail now for over a week, and finally
I feel like I am getting into the swing of things; up at 7:00 am,
packed and hiking by 7:40 am.
Hiked from the shelter at Low Gap to Montray Lean-To, a good fifteen
and a half miles, after which I was exhausted. After all, between
Low Gap and Montray shelter there is Poplar Stamp Gap, Cold Springs
Gap, Chattahoochee Gap, Uniquoi Gap, Indian Grave Gap, and Tray
Gap. This means that in between each one of those gaps there is
at least a hill, if not a mountain of some significance. Lots of
up and down. The last three miles after Indian Grave Gap and the
climb up Tray Mountain were a real struggle for me, but I stuck
it out. Fortunately, the view from Tray Mountain was exquisite!
(View from Tray Mountain)
I witnessed a grouse up close for the first time. I didn't think that they were
that big! I also saw a wild turkey. I had never seen one before, but I could tell
what it was by pictures I've seen.
I ran out of Tang, my usual drink, so I mixed up some grape Kool-Aid
I bought in Blairsville. It wasn't too bad. Change is good. On the
subject of change, while last night was tent city in Low Gap, tonight
I am all alone. As I sit here alone looking around the place, I
see on the wall an article from the Atlanta Constitution dated March
26th. The article is about the current rage of Appalachian Trail
fever, and claims that out of 200 thru-hikers last year, only 110
completed the trip. Another statistic stated that the Appalachian
Trail Conference has so far recorded 1,110 successful 2000 milers
since the formation of the trail only forty some years ago. In a
few months, I will be in that group. Somewhere next to the
article appeared a sticker placed by some guy named Phil Goad. Apparently
this self promoter is attempting to hike from Springer to Springer.
By that I mean hiking to Katahdin from Springer, and then returning
to Springer. Another guy, who I think started before Phil, but is
more low key about his accomplishment is a guy named Steve, simply
known as "Yo-Yo Steve". Steve only writes his trail-name
which tells the story, while Phil leaves stickers plastered on just
about everything advertising his attempt.
Rob Spaulding slept here last night according to his entry in
the register, and he also writes that he will be staying at the next shelter to
"wash clothes and daydream." I will be looking for him tomorrow.
It's getting dark so I'll sign off.
April 18, 1983
Woke up this morning to snow. The weatherman's voice coming from
my radio said that it was the coldest temperature ever recorded
on this date. Since all the recording instruments are down where
people live, I imagine that it was even colder here in the mountains.
I do not remember the temperature that the broadcaster reported,
but I was fortunate to have my cold weather EMS -40° Robson
down bag to keep me warm.
Montray shelter happy that I was wearing my denim bib overalls,
and hiked about five and a half miles in snow, changing to sleet,
and then to rain. A couple of miles after that I decided to stay
at Addis Gap Lean-To because the next shelter was another eleven
miles away. I had only traveled roughly five miles, but the temperature
was cold and I did not need to develop hypothermia.
I stepped into the shelter I met two girls who had not left yet,
but had spent the night with Rob. The girls said that I missed Rob
by two hours so I guess I'll have to see him tomorrow. I laughed
and commented to them that maybe he decided that the weather was
too cold to wash his clothes. They would have been freeze dried
by the time it was all said and done, and stiff as a board.
of other thru-hikers showed up during the day, and are sleeping here tonight in
the shelter: Tim Platts from Pennsylvania, and Greg from Missouri. Tim was an
easy going guy who loved his peanut butter and honey mix. He also had a a large
bag of GORP (Good old raisins and Peanuts) that he kept close by and snacked all
day. Greg was just out of the marines and looking for an adventure.
April 19th, 1983
This morning at 7:00 am it was 35° Fahrenheit. Greg was cold
because his sleeping bag was not the right comfort range. I guess
he thought it would not be this cold in the south at this time of
year. (Some time later I found out that he left the trail). Both
Greg and Tim informed me of their decision to go into Hiawassee
so they could sleep in a hotel and bathe, and of course pig out
at The Waffle Shack located there. I thought about it for a while.......
but passed on the idea. I did hike with Tim for a while this morning,
and due to his height and long legs and long gate, his casual stroll
was my slow trot.
crystals on the ground near Hooper Gap)
(deer in Hooper
By 11:00 am I had arrived at Dicks Creek Gap (Us. Rt. 76) and hoped
to find water. Just then, an R.V. pulled into the small rest area
located there. Out popped a man, about 65 years old, who offered
me a hot coffee. At first I was apprehensive, but I went for it
anyway. Turns out the man and his wife were none other than Al and
Anne Weed, two of the nicest people you'd want to meet. They fed
me homemade whole wheat bread (four slices), apple sauce, and apple
pudding - fantastic! They told me that the R.V. is now their home
and that they are touring the country. They expounded upon stories
about the good old days back in 1979 when they thru-hiked the A.T.
Since then, they have been helping hikers whenever they can. Currently
they have been helping a guy they called "Crazy Roger",
who has a place in New York State near Greenwood Lake. Roger, who
is section hiking from New York State to Springer, has accommodations
for seven at his summer house. He feeds and puts up all hikers that
he sees for free. I'll have to look him up when I get in that area.
He is a schoolteacher who during his summers sections-hikes between
the time classes are out until about June, when he returns to New
York to assist thru-hikers at his cottage.
The Weeds and I talked for a while
before Roger took my picture. He said two copies will be made, one he will put
on his wall, and the other he said he would mail to me. The Weed's did say that
later in the season when the majority of the thru-hikers begin to arrive at Katahdin
they would be there to feed them and assist in any way possible. They had also
done this in previous years.
their thru-hike in the '70s, they bought motor scooters and traveled the Florida
peninsula. The Weed's were not young people, but looked to be in their late sixties
or early seventies. How inspiring!
Weed's and Roger were very nice to talk with and very generous, but it became
time to move on.
The next eleven miles I hiked today seemed to fly by. Unfortunately,
it's too late to go on to the next shelter so I'll stay here at
Plumorchard Gap Lean-To tonight. Tomorrow I will say good-bye to
Georgia, and hello to North Carolina. At that point I will have
thirteen States to go, and twelve miles to the next lean-to.
April 20th, 1983
I slept with two north-bounders last night. They're headed
for Bly Gap this morning to take pictures and "catch some rays". Also
in attendance at the shelter was "Wild Bill" from Minnesota. He is as
crazy as a loon. When he left camp this morning he let out a blood curdling scream.
He's a section hiker, and heading south for Springer on this trip.
North Carolina greeted me with a big mountain named Sharp Top. It
lived up to its name with some uphill climbing that took me until
12:30 pm. I hiked all day and didn't see a soul. What beautiful
country around here, Dia would love it. Wonder what she is doing
now? I sat down in this beauty for a half hour today and just listened
to the snow as it melted off of the trees; I never noticed the sound
of it before. It seems that when you're alone up in the mountains
for a while your senses become sharpened. But I really was not alone;
I also saw a hoot owl today. He must have had a wing span of about
three feet - a big one! - all the other birds were scrambling for
I sauntered into Standing Indian Lean-To by 3:30 pm, good time.
There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground left over from
the storm that had fallen during the Montray to Addis Gap section.
It seems to have hit this area quite a bit harder as these mountains
in North Carolina are 1000 feet higher on average. A guy I ran into
a day or so back that lives around here said that this was the coldest
spring in 100 years of record keeping. Many of the other hikers
have complained of being cold at night, but not me, this sleeping
bag is great, and the bibs too.
(View from Bly
April 21st, 1983
(View from Standing Indian Mountain)
(View from Little Ridgepole Mtn)
The mountains treated me to some breathtaking views today, and the
weather was perfect for hiking and viewing them. Mt. Albert was
a killer. As I climbed, the cartoon character Fat Albert came to
mind. Don't know why, but that character just popped into my brain.
The trail was hand over hand, practically like rock climbing, straight
up for about a half mile during the last push to the summit. The
view offered me after the tedious climb made it all worth it!
(Albert Mountain area and firetower)
At the summit of Albert Mountain,
the trail passes directly under a fire tower, so I went up the steps to see what
I could see. I was surprised to find someone already inside the upper tower, a
forest ranger. I talked with Charlie, the ranger stationed at the tower, for about
a half an hour. While conversing with him, he offered me a Mountain Dew - which
I guzzled on the spot. A real nice guy.
Today I covered about fifteen miles from Standing Indian Lean-to
to Big Spring Lean-To. Big Spring shelter is only one half mile
from Albert Mtn summit, so I did not have too far to travel after
descending the steps of the fire tower Spending the night at this
shelter will allow me to head into Franklin, North Carolina tomorrow
for laundry, and a Pizza Hut pig out. Civilization also provides
the opportunity to take a hot shower while in town. I definitely
need one 'cause I can smell myself. While I'm there I'll call home
Looks like I'll be sleeping alone tonight, which
is not too bad - in fact, I like it.
April 22nd, 1983
Up and out of the shelter by 7:30 am. I hiked down to Rock Gap Lean-To
and lo and behold I found Rob there. I did not catch up to him the
other day like I thought I would have, but now I have. He's headed
up to Wesser, North Carolina and even though at the moment I'm going
into Franklin, North Carolina, our paths will cross again. We parted
company as I continued on less than a mile to reach Route 64, the
road to Franklin.
(Route 64 through Wallace Gap)
After two miles of road walking on Route 64 sticking my thumb out
at every passing vehicle, I finally got a lift into town. I checked
into the Woods Motel, did laundry, stocked up on food, and of course
ate at Pizza Hut. After I got back from "The Hut" I called
"the folks" and talked for a while before repacking my
bag with my new supplies. I guess I must be getting that thru-hiker
appetite as I can tell that I bought too much food!! The pack will
be heavier than normal for a few days. At 9:30 pm I will call Dia.
It will be nice to hear her voice! Since I had time on my hands
with nothing else to do, I cleaned my Svea stove.
My feet ache today; I hope that they will feel better tomorrow!
Unfortunately, the forecast is for rain, leading to perhaps a rotten
hike along the road back to the trail.
April 23rd, 1983
Oh, the wonders of a nice soft bed! I woke up at 8:30 am, put the
final touches to packing, then watched Bugs Bunny until 11:00 am.
The swelling in my feet went down considerably since last night,
but just to be safe I bandaged them up anyway.
thought about this adventure in town as I prepared to depart and came to the conclusion
that Franklin was actually a bit too far off the trail to go on a trip like this,
plus I had lost a lot of time. I could not afford to spend so much money in towns
for I had only $2000.00 for the whole trip. Because of my slow start I was further
behind on trail miles than I should have been, and was worried that I would not
be able to complete the journey before they closed down the trail up Katahdin.
I should have been averaging fifteen miles per day and I hadn't.
leaving town, I hiked down to the local outlet and bought a new set of batteries
for my miniature radio. I spent about $45.00 during this town stop. I hope in
the future I can control myself or my trip will come to a premature end due to
lack of funds.
I stood on the roadside with my thumb out for a short while
in the pouring rain, and was quite surprised when I actually got a ride. The guy
was nice enough to give me a ride all the way up to the trail-head.
I backtracked the short distance to Rock Gap Lean-To by about about
1:00 pm, sat down to eat, and have been catching up on my journal
ever since. Three thru-hikers just came in from the south with a
similar plan to the one I had just executed. They will be going
into Franklin, North Carolina tomorrow.
I will continue
on and plan on stopping at Siler Bald Lean-To tomorrow.