We had just crossed into North Carolina from Georgia and stayed at Standing Indian Shelter. Oh, and what a climb it was!
Speaking of climbs, the one to Albert Mountain was a whole lot of fun (and no that’s not sarcasm)! There were cliff views on the way and a rock scramble to the top (at one point I was pole dancing around a small tree to keep myself from falling)! Once at the top, there was a fire tower which was unfortunately closed (I wasn’t looking and smacked the top of my head on the door), but the view was great and we were excited to have accomplished our first 100 miles of the trail!
To make the day even better, there were a few Pabst Blue Ribbons left at the Long Branch Shelter by a fun loving local named Willy who we met the night before, and will see again the next day with Miss Janet who together helped us get into town.
The next day, we headed into Franklin, NC. Franklin is one of those towns that you can get stuck in, and when weather’s crappy, you might be there a while (we got “stuck” there 3 nights). There’s a free pancake and bacon breakfast every morning at the 1st Baptist Church, a brewery (The Lazy Hiker Brewing Co.) to get sinful at afterwards, an outfitter (Outdoor 76) with a beer/wine bar and some of the best staff (shout out to Rob, you da man for getting my feet in the right shoes!), Mr. Ron Haven and his lovely wife at the Budget Inn, and Baltimore Jack (RIP), who was helping out across the street at the Hiker’s Den at the time.
We were going to miss it if we kept hiking, so a group of us convinced Ron Haven to bus us all over to and from the Trail Magic Festival at the NOC for a small fee. Ron, you’re awesome!
There were a couple observation towers (Wayah Bald and Wesser Bald) to check out after leaving Franklin.
It was a foggy hike down the mountain, but eventually we walked ourselves into the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center), and I was literally skipping down the hill to get there so I could get myself a beer!
We split a cabin with Strider, Hollywood (two more people we would bond with really well), and Wokman, ate a
phatty fatty breakfast, then hit the trail to Locust Cove Gap where it rained all night.
The next night, 20+ hikers crammed in the surrounding area of Cable Gap Shelter which no one would sleep in, because it was so gross (although Hatchet hung up his hammock along it). We met some more lifers on the way: Chedda, Vino, 007, and Refill to name a few.
We eventually arrived at Fontana Dam Shelter aka the Fontana Hilton (known as such because of its nice views, room for 20, having a charging station, bathrooms with showers, trash cans, and plenty of tent sites, all for free)! We got there just in time for Frisbee’s birthday!
We got a ride to Fontana Village where we ate well, stocked up, did laundry, and hung around the General Store to drink copious amounts of beer all day before returning to the shelter. It was a lot of fun although I remember little. Apparently I organized a game that everyone was into at one point of the night. More on my hangover next time!
Total AT Mileage: 165.9 miles
Number of Hiking Days: 15
Number of Zero Days: 4
Average Mileage per Day Total: 11.1 miles
Average Mileage this Chapter: 10.0 miles (8 days)
Longest Hiking Day: 16.2 miles (Standing Indian Shelter to Long Branch Shelter; NC)
Shortest Hiking Day: 5.9 miles (Wesser Bald Shelter to The NOC; NC)