3/17/12 – Day 9 – Deep Gap Shelter – 7.4mi/66.0tot

Deep Gap Fire

Finally an easier day of hiking. Made great time, even catching up with Slim at Addis Gap. Kelly Knob was still super tough to go up, at 900ft of gain over about 1mi.

Got in to the shelter about 2pm. A-Team, Jason, Shiann, Slim, and a group of Boy Scouts from Alabama are all here. They seem to be a pretty good bunch, and are on the trip here for three days as prep for Philmont. They should have a great time.

Got to get up early tomorrow about 5am to hike 4mi out and catch a shuttle at Dick’s Creek Gap at 9am. We have a room reserved at the Budget Inn in Hiawassee. Should be a nice break. Happy St. Paddy’s Day.

3/16/12 – Day 8 – Tray Mtn Shelter – 2.0mi/58.6tot

Tray Mountain View

Finally got an easy day, only 2 miles. Woke up late as usual about 10am and was instantly covered with biting gnats once again. Putting up wet gear from the storms and getting water while swatting bugs is very frustrating and demoralizing. Bug spray does not work in the least.

Tray Mountain View

I hiked on and found some trail magic. Jeff and Bill with Albert and his dog Champ were cooking burgers for hikers at Tray Mountain Gap. I was pretty hungry after not eating much and ate three large burgers and two Mountain Dews. I was great and pretty much turned my day around.

I hiked up Tray Mountain, which is pretty steep and got to the shelter. It is pretty nice compared to some. I hear it has mice though, so it will be my first mouse experience.

Tray Mountain View

I’ve been able to hang around with Slim, Jason, and Shiann who caught up to me today. It’s been a good day and a nice break that I have been wanting. The A-Team; Valerie, her husband Troy, son Samson, and father the Hiking Viking, a 75 year old, got back on the trail today after a night off in Helen, GA, and are camped nearby. They are nice people from central Florida.

Got to see a wonderful sunset right over the privy tonight. A poop with a view. Tomorrow I think I will aim either for the next shelter or a camp shortly after so I can be in Hiawassee on Sunday.

3/15/12 – Day 7 – Cheese Factory – 7.0mi/56.6tot

Another miserable day. Hot and tormented by biting gnats only interrupted by short downpours of rain, that only made it more humid. I stopped 2mi short of Tray Mountain shelter and pitched my tent in the middle of a thunder storm with lots of heavy rain and hail. I got in with hopes of sleeping through until dawn, but the sun had other ideas. It came back out around 4 just to make me suffer more for trying to avoid the storm. I already have everything set up, so I am not going anywhere.

My clothes all got soaked, but it is supposed to rain tonight so I’m not going to bother with a clothes line. I am the only one at the site so it should be my first night totally alone.

Matt and Joe caught up to me having hiked a long day. They were off to Tray Mountain from Low Gap. I expect it to be very crowded tonight with people from Blue Mountain and Low Gap both heading there.

I have a headache, I think it is from not eating and drinking enough. I hope it goes away overnight. I am getting tired of all this heat and these bugs. I can handle the tough hikes, but the rest turns me off. I can’t wait until Hiawassee. Hopefully a little time there will turn things around.

I finally picked up a trail name this morning thanks to Unicoi Zoom (Nora). I am now called Easy Does It due to my easy going attitude about hiking and lack of plans. I don’t bother with an itinerary or schedule at all.

No matter how sick of it I get, I do want to give the AT a good try. I definitely want to make it out of Georgia. NC is mile 78 or so, and try to stick it out a couple more weeks before I make any decisions.

3/14/12 – Day 6 – Rocky Knob Campsite – 6.4mi/49.6tot

Today was miserable. If I could have sat down and just quit I would have. I pushed on anyway. I am camped about a mile short of the next shelter, just before a steep climb. I think I’ll take it easy tomorrow and stay there. I had a late start this morning as I got up about 9-10 as usual.

I did laundry in the creek and hung it to dry, but it took forever. I ended up having to hang my socks on the daisy chain of my pack to finish drying. I left anyway even though it was 1pm, because I wanted to move on.

The hike didn’t look too bad in the profile, but about 1.5mi of it was all rocks. There was no real trail and scrambling over rocks is slow and hard. The worst part that really put me over the edge is all the lousy flying bugs. I have been swarmed incessantly by the evil little things for two days now. I think they are mostly winged ants, but there is a good mix with lots of gnats. I really want it to cool off enough to kill all the worthless things, even though it means I would be shivering in my sleeping bag.

It was hot out today – mid/high 80s and I was constantly baked by the sun on the trail. No clouds, no trees, no respite. Probably even got sun burned. I had heard repeatedly that it was not possible here during this time of year. It is supposed to be 60s and cloudy for the most part.

I am camped on a ridge near a couple of locals from Statesboro who work at a Mellow Mushroom pizza place. I met them earlier at Blood Mountain shelter, but do not remember their names. I am low on water at a little less than 1L so I did not cook dinner. Instead I ate a Clif Mojo bar and some of my ginormous bag of trail mix. I hope I have enough water left to get through the steep climb up Blue Mountain without too much agony.