Day Seven: Crossing the Border

This article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.

This morning’s breakfast was a refreshing change: a bowl of cereal. After breakfast, I finished packing up and grabbed the shuttle from the Hostel back to the trail at Dicks Creek Gap. The Hostel said 100% chance of rain tomorrow (Sunday), but only 50% chance today. Hopefully the skies will hold off today. I started the morning with some pretty good climbs up to Bull Gap. Bull Gap hardly seems like a Gap at all. It’s like a tiny dip in the trail on the top of the mountain.

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There were a lot of ups and downs on the way North to the Carolina border. In the 5.5 Miles from Plum Orchard Gap shelter to the view/summit above Sharp Top, it was a little over 1500ft climb composed of smaller ups and downs. There was also a good amount of tree downage across the trail. Ran into a couple of spots that hadn’t been addressed and had to pick around it. No big deal, but a first for my hike.

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Tree downage near Plum Orchard Gap shelter

Possibly the best news for the trip happened today: I finished my section hike of Georgia! Officially crossed into North Carolina. Renee and I did a bit of a happy dance and took pictures for each other at the border sign. We also crossed at the EXACT moment that south bound flip-flop hiker “Super Mario” was crossing into Georgia. Couldn’t have timed it that way we if we tried. Step for step, this guy showed up at the border sign at the exact moment we did. I can only assume his trail name came from the iconic mustache he was sporting.

One state down. Farewell Georgia!

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Renee and I celebrating our first border crossing!
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I’m seriously excited. In case you can’t tell.

After the celebration, it was time to finish my hike in North Carolina.

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Fun fact: I always wondered what this tube on the tree was for. Turns out it’s currently just a rusty pipe that is stuck in the tree. It doesn’t hold a logbook or anything fun like that.

Not to be outdone, Carolina immediately delivered steep climbs to almost 4900ft. Coming down from those climbs, Renee decided to play some music. I think that’s just what we needed. I hadn’t played any music the whole week but now we were both grinning ear to ear celebrating our cross over into North Carolina listening to “Oh My Sweet Carolina” by the Zac Brown Band. I found out later that we did 203 flights of stairs worth of climbing today. Some great views, the first where I’ve seen bodies of water along with the mountains, made it a little sweeter.

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The view just above Sharp Top. There appears to be a river and some lakes back there.

We got to my intended stopping point at Muskrat Shelter early enough in the day that I decided to push on to Deep Gap. I was thinking that might allow me to avoid hiking in the rain tomorrow and maybe I could even get picked up earlier than anticipated. 100% chance of rain wasn’t how I wanted to end my hiking trip. Besides, while I have a partner to hike with I might as well see what a 16mile day feels like. I got in touch with my ride and sure enough – I’ll get picked up a couple hours earlier on Sunday! That will make the drive home easier and get me back to my family around night fall.

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Summertime brought beautiful flowers to the trail. Mostly saw these orange variations in N.C.

Even though I was feeling good, I did manage to get my first blister today. I treated it early so it was manageable. Looking back, I realized I had to throw my shoes on pretty quick on the shuttle this morning and probably didn’t tie them well enough. I guess details can make the difference. I slapped a moleskin patch on there and it got me through.

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Overall, today I knocked out 16 miles between 9am to 7pm! At Deep Gap, I met Renee’s boyfriend Chris and their dog where I said some farewells to my awesome hiking buddy. Thanks Renee!

Bonus Content:  My Appalachian Trail Name
I came onto the A.T. with the trail name “Full Tang” from my most faithful hiking buddy, Neal. He was hoping to do this hike with me, but life didn’t allow it. I let him know I would only pick up a new trail name if something organic happened and I was dubbed a new one that was specific to the A.T.  – Well, guess what? Renee and Hannah gave me my official A.T. Trail name: Pace Car. Since I had set a steady pace for them and helped them hike without going into overdrive and either killing their feet or exhausting themselves, it made sense and kind of defined the last half of my section hike. Plus, it turns out “Full tang” is kind of hard to enunciate without sounding weird and most people hear “full tank” and then it’s awkward when you tell your trail name story and it’s different – LOL.

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Obligatory photo of the unique tree at Bly Gap

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Since it was getting late, I rushed to set up camp and get some food cooked before dark. I was able to do both and spent the rest of the evening reflecting on my journey.

I section hiked Georgia and traveled a total of 85.1 miles in 7 days! I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity. Looking forward to seeing you next year, A.T.!

P.S. Even though my daily re-caps are done, keep your eyes peeled for a few more articles about my journey!

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My farewell entry at the Deep Gap log book

Bonus Content:
06/04/17 – The next morning: I woke up surprised that it hadn’t rained throughout the night. I almost got done packing up camp when the threatening skies finally decided to deluge. Once again thankful for my poncho, I found a dry spot on a log under a tree to sit and had breakfast and found myself once again replaying my trip in my mind and feeling blessed. I had hiked for myself and raised money for a good cause in the process (Click the hashtag below to check it out). It’s one of my biggest accomplishments to date and a memorable one. I’m looking forward to getting out of the woods today, but I already know I would come back tomorrow if I was given the chance. I’ll be more than ready next year to tackle the next section.

#HikeWithHeart

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