It’s been over a week since getting an up-date from Snapshot. On Day 9 (March 14) she had arrived in Hiawassee, Georgia anticipating a rest day (zero=day) on Sunday before continuing her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. A great deal has happened, so let me catch you up on Carolyn’s adventure.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Today’s Miles = 0
Snapshot and her group took a zero in Hiawassee, although she walked a bit. She hiked to the corner store for her morning cup of coffee; then to the Dollar Store to resupply for the next 4 days; then to McDonald’s for a small lunch: a Big Mac, fish sandwich, large fry, and a large coke!
Snapshot’s afternoon was filled with some good rest and updating her journal The group got together for pizza and story-telling in the hotel lobby after which Snapshot returned to her room to repack for her return to the trail on Wednesday.
Monday, March 16, 2020
Today’s Miles = 11.8
Snapshot got a 7:30 am. shuttle ride back to the trailhead. It was raining and the trail was very muddy, but she was excited because she was hoping to cross the state line into North Carolina. Coming off a zero-day, Snapshot felt strong and rested. The first 8 miles went by quickly as she reached the Georgia/North Carolina border.
However, the state of North Carolina greets the thru-hiker with a challenging uphill climb to Courthouse Bald and their destination of Muskrat Shelter. The 11.8-mile rainy day ended at a full shelter, but Snapshot found a spot and was happy to spend a dry night without having to pack up a wet tent in the morning.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Today’s Miles = 12
Snapshot slept well during the night but good night’s sleep was still greeted with more rain. Despite the trail which looked more like a mountain stream, the group managed to complete their hiking goal of 12 miles and Carter Gap Shelter.
Today’s hike took Snapshot over Standing Indian Mountain and just as she reached the top, the rain stopped and the fog lifted, offering up a beautiful view. As the evening arrived and the rain abated, Snapshot pitched her tent with the forecast of clear skies until 9 am.
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Today’s Miles = 8.7
Snapshot began the hike today at 9:00 with rain an obvious part of the day. She planned an 8.7-mile day making Long Branch Shelter the destination for the evening.
Word reached the group that the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) was strongly advising thru-hikers to leave the trail in response to COVID-19. Snapshot records her thoughts, No one in my Tramily including myself, want to leave the trail. We are all happy and healthy out here. One might think being out here in nature would be the best possible place to be. However, if we choose to stay on trail, we will be faced with limited support and supplies. Already, some of the hostels have temporarily shut down, the NOC is closed and so is the… Conservancy in Harpers Ferry. The other concern is being able to resupply. We are hearing essentials like fuel for our stoves, hand sanitizers, toilet paper and certain foods are becoming scarce. We will be in town tomorrow and will regroup and reassess.
The group passed the 100-mile marker as they conquered their biggest challenge yet – Albert Mountain. They arrived early to camp. Long Branch Shelter sleeps 16 and is quite spacious for AT Shelters. Snapshot shared the loft with Salt, Stoneman, Aura, and Rou. Having a roof over our heads and the security of three walls is making all of us very happy. It’s amazing how little time it takes out here to make you appreciate the very simplest of things.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Today’s Miles = 7.2
Salt and I were packed up and were on trail by 6:30am. We hiked in the dark until morning broke. At first light we stopped trail side to have breakfast and a cup of coffee.
Today’s short 7.2-mile trek was designed to end at Winding Stair Gap, and from there, a shuttle ride to Baltimore Jacks Hostel in Franklin N.C. After getting the notice from the ATC, the group decided to spend a couple of days off the trail to discuss the virus and how to best move forward.
In Franklin, the grocery stores and outfitters have remained open. Supplies are plentiful, but all restaurants are closed except for takeout orders. The group was able to eat well and resupply for the trail ahead.
For now, we have decided to stay on trail for as long as it’s feasible
Friday, March 20, 2020
Today’s Miles = 0
Snapshot spent the morning putting together my resupply for the next 3 days. The stress of the virus and the whole new sets of logistics in moving forward on the trail took it tole of Snapshot today, Thru-hiking itself is hard, now we have the added layer of planning days ahead. It’s a minor thing to be worried about with all that’s going on in the world and I recognize how lucky I am even to be out here. Nevertheless, I couldn’t control the tears today.
Three members of the group decided to stay in town for a few days. Turtle and Snapshot made the decision to go back to the trail and arranged a shuttle for 7:30 am on Saturday. Their six-day plan is: to get to the NOC in three days where I will pick up my resupply box. The NOC is closed, remaining open for package pick up only. From there we have another three days to Fontana Damn Lodge. The plan is to zero there for a day or two before heading into the Smokies.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Today’s Miles: 11
Turtle and Snapshot left Franklin and were back on the trail by 8:30 am. Her decision to continue on resulted in a peaceful start, Minutes after being on the trail, I could feel the stress releasing. Calm crept back and reclaimed my being. The sun was shining and all was right once again.
The 11-mile trek was her best day on the trail. She and Turtle hiked at a comfortable pace and talked and laughed as they basked in the sunshine. The view from Wayah Bald was fantastic, Wayah Bald has a vantage point of 5,342 ft. in elevation, located in the Nantahala National Forest. Although the climb was arduous, the payoff left me speechless. We are camping tonight at Wayah Bald Shelter. It’s one of the nicest shelters, with a wonderful view. I look forward [to] waking in the morning and watching the sun rise.
Photo: Muskrat Shelter https://www.cnyhiking.com/ATinNC-BlyGapToUS64.htm
Photo: Long Branch Shelter https://www.trailjournals.com/journal/photos/16822/842690