Day 12 – March 19 2017 – 12.1 miles- Carter Gap to Rock gap
In the morning we were greeted with the sun and the temperature was a lot warmer than it had been. It looked like a great day to go for a hike.
The climb up Albert Mountain was gradual then pretty steep. Gaining 400ft in 0.3 miles. Right before the steep section there was some trail magic, our first in N.C.. Cookies and soda. Well, cookies and empty soda cans.
As the trail got steeper the terrain started to encounter long slabs of exposed rock. It reminded me of the Adirondacks, where we had done a lot of hiking growing up.
Near the top there was a trail that led off to the side and upwards. There was a sign that had a handwritten note saying “Only a fool would pass this view up”. Well, our Momma didn’t raise no fools, so off we went.
After a short, steep climb we were treated a rocky ledge with great view. There was a log with two hikers sitting on it enjoying the sunshine. We joined them and decided to have a snack. They went by Odin and Feathers. We chatted with them for a little while before they went on. Stoat and I lingered a little longer. Basking in the sun like lizards.
After we left the lookout it didnt take long to get to the summit. At the summit there is a lookout tower which also happened to be the 100 mile marker. Stoat and I crossed the line together, exchanged a high five, and then dropped our packs.
We had done over 51,500 feet of elevation change. ( Georgia is not flat! ) We had hiked 100 miles, 70 miles more than we had ever hiked on a trip before. Now we just had to do that 21 more times…
From the top of the tower we had a beautiful 360 degree view. It was a great place to celebrate the 100 mile milestone. It was also a great place for lunch.
Odin and Feathers were also there as well as a few other hikers. Over the course of our conversation we found out that they were raising money for veterans. Every mile they hiked their donors would contribute a certain amount. I thought that was pretty cool.
On the way down Albert Mt. my knee pain flared up again. By the time we had reached rock gap, our final destination for the day, I was pretty uncomfortable.
(Children’s drawings at the Rock Gap Shelter)
We had arrived at Rock Gap shelter around 2 PM and we had a decision to make. The shelter and surrounding area wasn’t to appealing as there wasn’t any good hammocking spots. Hiking to the next official camping spot would involve going up and over a 1000ft hill and overshoot our resupply point. As we were hanging out in the shelter Tyler stopped by. He mentioned that there was a shuttle into Franklin NC from a road that was 0.2 away and it should be there any minute. Off we went.
When we got to the trail head at the parking lot we found out we had just missed the shuttle. A couple was in the parking lot and offered us a ride into town. The only thing was that they were parked a mile or two away. I didn’t feel like I was up to it so they said if we were there when they got back, they would take us into town. Awesome!
While we were waiting I called the hostel to make a reservation. The guy on the phone said he shuttle was close to us and he would have them turn around to get us.
A cargo van showed up a few minutes later to pick us up. They opened up the side door and told us to get in.
Inside the van there were several other hikers. There were two couples and a guy in the front seat who went by the name Goliath. Goliath looked a little annoyed. We soon found out that he was originally the first and only rider and every time he was almost to the hostel the van would turn around to pick up more hikers. The poor guy was in the van for 45 minutes when it usually takes less than 15 to get to the hostel.
During the ride to the hostel Stoat and I mentioned we were from NJ. A hiker named Pom-pom ears perked up. He asked us if we were brothers. “Yup” Stoat responded “Brothers not lovers “. Then Pom-pom said “Was there an article written about you? “.
There was in fact a newspaper article written about us. ( I’ll talk more about it in a later post) It was also put up online. What Stoat and I didn’t know was that it kind of went viral in some hiking circles. Over the course of the entire trip we would encounter quite a few people who knew of us because of the article. Sometimes they would ask to take a picture with us. This was witnessed by others enough that we got another nickname. But that’s another story.
The first time the article was brought up was on day 1 at the Hiker Hostel when we were eating breakfast. It was Neapolitan from NJ who first “recognized” us and asked to take a picture with us. Stoat and I thought that was pretty cool but we also felt weird about it. We weren’t any more special than anyone else. We were just doing exactly what everyone else was doing.
Anyway, Pom-pom and his girlfriend Deep Cheeks (named after her smile) lived in Massachusetts. A relative had sent them the article about us and they wondered if they would meet us.
And that’s how we wound up in the back of an unmarked cargo van taking pictures with strangers.