4/18 Long Branch Shelter (21.1)

April 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm

We’ve hit a few milestones in the past couple of days! We’ve crossed over the border into North Carolina, passed the 100 mile mark and pushed through our longest day yet, 21 miles!

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It’s pretty early to be hitting a 20+ mile day, but we hit the right combination of terrain and the threat of a thunderstorm that propelled us forward. After the last storm that left us bailing out our tent, we decided that situation would not repeat itself. On Thursday, 4/18 we completed a long 16 miles to get to Muskrat Shelter and after conferring with a few of the friends we’ve been steadily hiking with, we decided that the Friday storms we’ve been anticipating all week would best be met by getting as close to the trail town of Franklin, NC as possible, the closest road crossing being about 30 miles away.

In order to get there, it would mean an early morning. Naturally, we slept in. Outside our tent was cold and wet from a small storm the night before. Our sleeping bags were the exact opposite. At ten, we finally had hauled out and began some gradual climbs, the day culminating with a climb of Albert Mountain, a scramble up wet rocks to the first firetower of the trail, offering panoramas of NC and GA, also the 100th mile of the trail

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Two more miles brought us to a glorious mostly empty shelter, populated by Sprouts or constant companion on the trip! We arrived about one hour before hiker-midnight (9pm) .Sleeping under a sturdy roof, the dreaded rains came, and continued all morning though the 7 miles into town. Luckily, the lightening held off, but we got very cold 40mph winds as we walked across a ridge line.

 

——————————————-Two entries today! What luck!

Well, we decided to try to outrun the thunderstorm today. We woke up in a cloud after the light rains the night before and spent the morning procrastinating. We joked with Bigfoot, Princess and company until the late hour of 930 and then finally got moving. It was a long but blissfully cool day in the mist and we were determined to make it the 21 miles that would put us within short reach of Franklin and in a dry shelter before the thunderstorm hit.  We saw many familiar characters during our Odyssey.  HumbleBrag was waiting out the imminent rain in the Carter Gap shelter with One-Eye, who had fearlessly pitched a tent. We got word of Honey Moon being a couple days back, and as we descended into Betty Creek we met Will and Brittany in a cozy camping spot. We thought seriously about staying there but we were worried about making the steep scramble up Mt. Albert in tomorrow’s rain and braved the last 5 miles. Thunder loomed in the distance and a dark cloud followed us as we hiked up.  The last part of the climb was straight up the rock and required us to use our hands and toes to get up.  The view was the best on the AT so far, with a 360 degree panoramic view of North Carolina and Georgia.  The sun was getting lower and it made the mountains stand out by casting half of them in shadow.  We made the last 2 flat miles with complaining backs and sore feet and collapsed at the beautiful new shelter with just enough time to eat before hiker midnight (nightfall). We found Sprouts and Hopeless and figured out that DocSpice and Shanks might only be a half day away!