Shout out to everyone reading the blog! Feel free to leave a comment, whether so know you well, a little, or not at all! I enjoy reading them and it momentarily takes my mind off how muddy I am!
The night at Hawk Mountain convinced me that using my tent was a better option than shelters. I’d slept well and it had been nice to have had a bit of personal space as well as no nuisance from mice and the like.
We packed up and got ready to go. The aim was to cover around ten miles and find a place to camp around Gooch Gap. This section of the trail in Georgia is chock full of smallish mountains, so it was up, down, up, down all day. It was also quite hot – probably low to mid twenties (Celsius!) The trail was dusty and plenty of water was required.
The hike was great, climbs and descents both offered stunning views through the treeline of the surrounding mountains. On this part of the trail you can see a beautiful layering effect as the mountains fade from dark greens and browns in the foreground to lighter shades in the background. Some better illustrative shots later – for now here’s a corny selfie that shows how grumpy I looked to be out on the AT:
We pushed on to Gooch Gap, which had been the planned camping spot. To our amusement, here a “good old boy”-type rolled up in his pickup truck and dished out bottles of water. I wish I had a picture as this chap had a phenomenal bowl haircut… After listening to some stories, most of which revolved around “young’uns” getting into trouble, we decided that the roadside spot at Gooch Gap might not be the best place to stay. It was Friday and we thought road traffic at the Gap would disturb us.
We decided to push on a couple of miles, and I led our trio up the hills towards Ramrock Mountain. I managed to make Charlotte and Tyler grumpy with the quick uphill pace I was keeping – sorry guys! Shoe will be on the other foot soon, I promise!
We parked ourselves atop a hill where there were some likely spots for tents. A few people were there already – a young couple (Beth and Dan) and a veteran Thru-Hiker with the trail name Highland Dave.
I chatted with Dave as I set up, he had hundreds of stories. He claimed to have recently hiked the AT northbound then back southbound in one go, nearly 4500 miles! He was a Dalonegha native (town close to Springer Mountain and grew up hiking in the area. He told me of a site nearby called Cherlita’s grave, where legend has it a Native American princess who was thousands of years old lost her immortality. She fell in love with a European settler and left the land which kept her youthful.
And apparently Dalonegha was the original gold rush site and is the place referred to in the “there’s gold in them there hills” quote. He also shared some Thru-Hiking stories and showed me photos of the best hitch-hike he ever got – a 1911 Model T Ford in immaculate condition!
After the stories, we traded food (some of my Toblerone chunks for his Pop Tarts, I think he came off better..) and I finished setting up.
Here’s my tent in situe:
Just past the tents there was a cliff offering an unrestricted view of the peaks, valleys and ridges that surrounded us. I’m running out of superlatives – I think I need to ration them more carefully! But this really was a “wow” moment. I dropped everything and tried to capture something to remember the moment by.
There was one final task to attend to. Until now I had used “bear boxes” – big static metal containers to store food bags and deter bears. There wasn’t one here, so I had to hang a bear bag! It was dark so I didn’t take a picture, but I will admit it took me a while to find a suitable tree with the headtorch, sling the line over, hoist the bag and tie off. But we got there in the end!
I drifted off feeling on top of the world at this wonderful spot (infinitely better than Gooch) thinking of my favourite picture I’d taken of the trip so far. Beth and Dan were sitting at the cliff and everything had lined up perfectly for a really nice shot – which I will be passing on to them as a souvenir of their trip.
Lots of love all – T x