Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dicks Creek Gap, AT Thruhike

So I have made it to Dicks Creek Gap here on the Appalachian Trail. 70 miles in, 80 miles from my start on the approach. I have been hiking without a day off for almost a week. I started in pouring rain, then marched on through humid and hot, been met with pure fog, then back to rain. And I wouldn't have it any other way. After a lot of great climbs over a few days, it was great to have my friend Brent join for a while. He and I got to summit Blood Mountain, which was an enjoyable climb. A tall mountain with great views, and a very cool and old stone shelter on top! The weather was just so absolutely beautiful. We descended steeply into Neels Gap, and I fed on a burrito and enjoyed an easy fill of water. While some hikers choose to stay in the hostel or cabins located here, I felt it was to early in the trip for such luxeries, and I felt eager to camp. So we pressed on to a nice tentsite just a mile or two past. I awoke that morning to the sound of yelling and the banging of pots. I emerged quickly to discover a bear in our camp! It had come close, and was not the least bit afraid of us at first! I began assisting in scaring it away, and with myself and a few other neighboring campers, we managed to drive it from our camp. I managed to snap a quick photo as well of the amazing creature. Brent and I had a lazy morning, which was nice since we hadn't hung out much in a while. It was fun to just stick around camp for an extra hour or two, take time with breakfast and whatnot. We enjoyed some pine tea, and shared some laughs. We had a great day of hiking, and at Tesnatee Gap, I watched him take a hitch into town. I continued on to a campsite near Low Gap Shelter. It was the largest concentration of campers I had seen yet. I enjoyed socializing with many new people. The next day it was foggy and moist. I much appreciated the break from the sun! I easily put in over 15 miles in this enjoyable weather. It was soothing on my sun burned skin. I woke to rain the following morning. It was nice to lay in my tent, listening to the water hitting my tent. Rather soothing in a way. Eventually I emerged, quickly packing my gear, and just using my tarp to sit and enjoy my breakfast. I was low on food. Thankfully, I just had 11 miles or so to a gap that would bring me to town to resupply. I got to hike with a few other thruhikers I had met, "Coffee-To-Go", a friendly medical student from Germany, and "KDoe", an interesting Ohio man who is using the trail to find himself. It was an exhausting day, climbing a couple peaks in full rain gear, with cold wind blowing. I had to push hard to keep up with my hikers friends who hungered for town. We had agreed to all share a room in town, so that we could refresh on the cheap. After a few hard, fast paced miles of foggy and rainy trail, we came to Dicks Creek Gap. We took a ride into town from a woman named Sally. Kind, she told us a lot about life in Northern Georgia. The people around here have proven to be of the friendliest thus far! Eventually we arrived in Hiawassee, and it was a great time. I showered for the first time since my start, resupplied in a real grocery store, ate a wonderful meal, and even soaked in a hot tub! I also threw my clothes in the laundry, and aired out all my gear. I really enjoyed getting to know these guys today. After meeting many various hikers, it was nice to disperse in a small group to make some genuine friends. I look forward to walking with them at points down the trail! With our gear sprawled across the floor, we are about to sleep, with a busy morning of packing and hitting the trail. After a nice breakfast of course! It is supposed to rain for the next few days, followed by some nice weather. Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty nasty in particular. Fingers crossed it doesn't slow me down.

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