Hiawassee, GA to Franklin, NC



Dicks Creek Gap to Muskrat Creek Shelter

Thursday, 3/26

AT Miles = 11.8 / 79.3
Other Miles = 0.4 / 13.0
Total Miles = 12.2 / 92.2

I woke up around 5:30 this morning and after showering I turned on the TV and watched the morning news program which today was all weather all the time. A big weather system was moving into the area and the forecast called for lots of rain and high winds in yjr north Georgia mountains. They were also reporting that a likely tornado had touched down over in Alabama early this morning.

In spite of all this, I was bored with hanging out in town and decided to head back out on the trail. The rain is forecast to contine for the next three days and I can't very well hide in town every time the weather gets bad.

So, at 8:30 I was on the shuttle back up to Dicks Creek Gap, and at 8:50 I was standing out in the rain strapping my pack to my back and heading up the trail.

The rain continued rather heavy for the first hour and a half or so, thern it tapered off. It is nowhere near clear, though. The mountains are right up in the cloud and visibility is only about 15 yards or so. It is very damp and chilly. I hiked with my raqin jacket and my new rain wrap (alright, alright; it's a skirt).

Around 1:00PM I hiked out of Georgia and into North Carolina. One state down and 13 to go! About a tenth of a mile later I reached Bly Gap (somehow the trail goes UP into the Gap) and the gnarled old tree that grows there and is seen in so many thru-hikers' photo albums.

The introduction to North Carolina is a tough one, as the trail climbs and climbs and climbs. Finally, around 3:00PM, I reached Muskrat Creek Shelter. The shelter is full, but I sleep in my hammock anyway so I don't care. I only want the shelter for a drfy place to cook aqnd eat and write this journal.

It's only a bit after 4:00 now, but I am going to make dinner soon, then retreat to my hammock and read before going to bed.

Oh! When I got here someone said to me "Hey Monkeywrench, there was Monkeywrewnch book (The Monkeywrench Gang) back at the last shelter." Darn. I was just thinking today that I'd like to get a paperback version so I could re-read that book on my hike.

I better quit now. My fingers aqre getting stiff with cold.

Allen Freeman


Muskrat Creek Shelter to Winding Stair Gap

Friday 3/27 and Saturday 3/28

AT Miles = 12.5 / 91.8
Other Miles = 0 / 13
Total = 12.5 / 104.7

AT Miles = 15.9 / 107.7 (I've passed the 100 mile mark!)
Other Miles = 0 / 13
Total Miles = 15.9 / 120.6

These posts are going to be a bit out of order. I have a post for
Thursday, the 26th, on my phone but for some reason Sprint has no
service in Franklin, NC, where I am tonight, so I can't send it. I'll
send it as soon as I get service again.

As a brief re-cap, I left Hiawassee, Georgia Thursday morning in the
rain, and on Thursday afternoon passed into North Carolina.

I am going to combine Friday and Saturday as they kind of blend
together in my mind. I left Muskrat Creek Shelter Friday morning after
a soggy night. It didn't actually rain overnight, but the humidity was
about 100% as we were in thick cloud all night. The tarp over my
hammock kept any rain and the water dripping from the trees off of me,
but the saturated air flowing through the hammock left everything very

Sometime during the night some animal ran under my hammock and I
actually felt him or her rub against the bottom of the hammock - and
my back - as it passed. There were some people sleeping in the shelter
that had a dog, so I think odds are it was the dog, but I'm not sure.
Mr. Ed thought it was funny to think it was a bear cub teasing his
mom. I hope not!

I started the day on Friday dressed for rain (shorts and T-Shirt with
rain jacket and rain skirt over them). After an hour or so it was not
raining and I was warming up so I took off the rain jacket and wrap.
Of course, about 15 minutes later it started to rain, and rained all
the rest of the day. After a long day of walking through the rain I
made it to Carter Gap Shelter. It was only about 3:00 PM, and I used
up as much time as I could getting water, cooking and eating dinner,
and cleaning up. It was cold standing around in wet clothes so about
5:30 I found a spot tucked behind some rhododendron bushes and out of
the wind to set up my hammock, then changed into dry clothes and
climbed in with my book. I managed to stay awake almost 'til 8:00PM,
then I was off to dream land. Just before I went to sleep I glanced
away from my book and out the netting of my hammock to see a rabbit
wandering through. I guess the hammock just doesn't register to
animals, since it's up in the air off the ground.

This morning (Saturday) I was awake about 6:00 and lay in my hammock
until about 6:30 when the first bit of light started to show itself. I
was up with my headlamp to eat breakfast and break camp, then I was
off on the trail at 8:08 (I usually glance at my watch every morning
when I start to hike). When I woke up this morning I decided that my
goal for the day was to get to Winding Stair Gap and get a ride into
Franklin, so I could have a hot shower, a dry motel room, and a nice
dinner. Within 20 minutes of starting my hike the rain started, and it
got heavier and heavier as the morning progressed. I was set on making
my miles, but I was also enjoying the day and the bits of scenery I
could see. As any of the photographers out there know, when it is
raining colors and very saturated and the diffuse light makes details
very interesting. There were a million shades of green. In a few
places there was a particular kind of tree that grows kind of short
and gnarly, and the trees were all covered with a green moss that was
very striking.

I stopped briefly at Big Spring Shelter, 6.8 miles from the day's
start, just to get out of the rain so I could dig some food out of my
pack. It was too cold to stand still for very long so after wolfing
down a couple of Pop-Tarts I was back out into the rain and pressed on
non-stop until I reached Winding stair Gap at 15.9 miles.

When I was maybe 4 miles from Winding Stair Gap the rain started to
ease and I could see some breaks in the clouds to the west. Soon the
wind was roaring as the high pressure started to push in, and the
cloud and fog that had enveloped us for the last three days started to
get torn away in shreds. When I finally reached Winding Stair Gap it
was 2:14, meaning that I had covered 15.9 miles in 6 hours and 6
minutes. My feet surely feel it!

I was offered a ride into town by someone at the Gap, and 15 or 20
minutes later I was chatting with Ron Haven and Miss Janet, two
legends on the trail who run a couple of motels and a hostel in town
and go to great lengths to extend hospitality to hikers. I have a room
in one of Ron's motels for tonight and tomorrow night. I'll spend
tomorrow (Sunday) getting all my gear clean and dry and shopping for
food for the next leg, which will be 2 1/2 days up to the Nantahala
Outdoor Center.

Allen F. Freeman

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I took only a very few photos on the last leg of my hike since it was
raining all the time and the camera was buried deep inside my pack in
the dry bag along with my clothes and the other electronics. The few
pictures I did take are here:


Allen F. Freeman


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Copyright 1996 - 2011 Allen F. Freeman
Last modified: November 03, 2011