Martin Steel

Dicks Creek Gap to Winding Stair Gap

Day 11: Dicks Creek Gap to Plumorchard Shelter

  • 4.5 miles
  • 18,571 steps
  • 192 floors

Off to a bit of a late start after enjoying the Holiday Inn Express breakfast and grabbing supplies it was a day of pointless ups and downs (PUDs) carrying some extra fresh food.

At the end of the day we camped behind Plumorchard shelter and cooked beef and mushroom kebabs over a fire with vegetable rice making us the envy of the rest of the camp.

Beef kebabs on the campfire

Day 12: Muskrat Creek Shelter

  • 7.3 miles
  • 25,595 steps
  • 325 floors

4.4 miles in to the walk we passed our first milestone, the Georgia, North Carolina border.

Me at the Georgia / North Carolina border

Plenty more pointless ups and downs and once we made it to the shelter the camping area was full. Backtracking a short way up the trail found us an ideal sheltered spot for tents and a great view down in to a valley for sunset.

Sunset on a ridge just before Muskrat Creek shelter

Day 13: Carter Gap Shelter

  • 12.5 miles
  • 33,137 steps
  • 261 floors

The plan was to camp at Beech Gap after about 9 miles, but on the way we’d heard thunderstorms were expected overnight so hiding away in a shelter became much more appealing. Kiba still had her tent up and Whoobie hadn’t surfaced when Cade and I had left at about 9 and we were expecting them to catch up all day - they didn’t.

Carter Gap Shelter

In the end the thunder never happened but we did get plenty of wind and rain, and Kiba and Whoobie didn’t make it either, we’ve heard from other hikers they stopped at Beech Gap.

Day 14: Long Branch Shelter

  • 8.5 miles
  • 21,380 steps
  • 198 floors

Last night was my first night sleeping in a shelter - I’ve stuck with my tent up to now - with rain drumming on the tin roof and people snoring just 6 inches away I didn’t get much sleep. It was great though this morning not having to deal with a wet tent.

Not the best weather

The day started with a thick fog which hung around all day and the weather forecast was rain and thunderstorms from early afternoon onwards, so it seemed a good idea to keep it short. We almost made it to the shelter before the storms but the heavens opened on the way up Albert Mountain.

Luckily Cade and I were the second and third in to Long Branch shelter at about 1pm so we got comfy spaces upstairs before everyone else arrived (as comfy as a wooden floor can be anyway). Within a hour the shelter was over full and the heavens had opened.

In our hurry to outrun the rain we missed marking today’s milestone, 100 miles on the trail. Kiba and Whoobie caught us up at the shelter late afternoon.

Day 15: Winding Stair Gap (for Franklin)

  • 7.3 miles
  • 18,500 steps
  • 108 floors

After another night of poor sleep in the shelter, this time we did get some lightning, I was up just after 7. A quick breakfast of coffee and porridge and we were off, or at least Cade and I were, Keba was waiting for the rain to stop and Whoobie hadn’t surfaced.

Around 800 foot down to start with and then up over an unnamed, but surprisingly difficult, peak before a long downhill run to Winding Stair Gap just before midday. As luck had it a Budget Inn shuttle turned up a few minutes later and took us in to Franklin - a stereotypical southern town - and somewhere to stay the night.

A little confusion later - the owner had one opinion of free rooms, the staff had another - we were checked in and off to a 50’s style diner for lunch.

Milage so far: 109.8 mile