Fontana Village

Fontana Village
Day 18 (4/28/19)
Miles – 11.29
Total miles – 171.8

Another town day. These are coming pretty quick. We got out of camp around 7:30. The days hiking was not hard. We did have several ups, but they were not too long. We started our day by working along a ridge top until dropping down to Yellow Creek Gap. This gap had a paved road running through it. We stopped near it for a break. Then we started our first up. It did not last long, we soon came to Yellow Creek Gap Shelter. For once there was no one at the shelter. We stopped just for a few minutes and then continued on. The miles went by as we headed west. Soon we were able to see Fontana Lake in the valley below us. We were getting close. We stopped for our last break overlooking the lake. I had a phone signal so I called the Fontana Village. I reserved a room and found out that there is a shuttle from the marina to the village, saving us a 3 mile walk. We dropped over 1700′ down to the lake. As we walked up to the marina, Slingshot, a thru-hiker we have seen for the last few days, was starting to hike to the village. We told him about the shuttle and he waited for it with us. We had to wait a few hours to get our room, so we headed to the grill for lunch. Afterwards, we walked down to the store. We sat in front of the store and talked with, Slingshot, One Gear, and Flower Man from Germany. Flower Man is also finishing his Triple Crown, One Gear has also completed the PCT. Around four, we checked into our room and tried to get our boxes. They did not have them. Papa Raven did a little checking and found it that they were sent they to the PO, not the village. That means we have to wait until tomorrow at 11:45 to get our boxes. We will lose half a day of hiking. We adjust.

Dogwood

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One hard up

Shortly before Brown Fork Gap
Day 17 (4/27/19)
Miles – 15.9
Total miles – 160.5

A room is really nice. Because we were warm and comfortable, we slept in. We did not get moving until after seven. Breakfast was quick and easy, oatmeal and coffee cake. Our room was tiny with two bunk beds. Bling slept on the floor, a small sink and a dresser. We had to take turns loading our packs because there was very little room to move about. This made packing slow. We were ready to go a little after 9:00.
The up out of NOC was big, about 3000′ to the highest point. The beginning of the trail brought us through pine trees, the first for the AT. Our favorite walking surface is a bed of pine needles. We actually got to do this. A rare event so far. At times the trail went straight up the hillside with no switchbacks while other times it became well graded. We talked with a man doing trail maintenance and he said that when the trail was originally laid out, they had to get property easements and the land owners allowed the trail to go only along a narrow swatch of outer property lines. In most cases that was at the top of a ridge and went straight up to a peak. Hence, that is the path the trail follows. Over the years the forest service has acquired land around the AT. They have slowly been adding switchbacks and closing off the older trail. We are always grateful when we hike a section that has been reworked. However the majority of the trail is of old standards. This big up was a mixture of everything. It took us hours to get to the top, and once there the hiking became easier. We traversed ridges and small peaks, but in general we headed down. This pattern continued until late in the afternoon when we came to Stecoah Gap. A nice location with a packing area, grass, a few picnic tables, and a trashcan. Trashcans are golden on the trail. It is a great pleasure to dump needless weight. While we still had light, we decided to push on. The first part of the climb away from Stecoah Gap was easy, but then it got really hard. The trail went straight up the ridge. We shifted into low great and plodded our way up. We did the 600′ climb without stopping and we were not too winded, but we were exhausted. We told Bling to start looking for a camp. It was not long before we came to a location that was big enough for both tents, although not very flat. It had a pipped spring, which was a bonus! We are going to bed tonight very tired.
Tomorrow we will get to our next food drop, Fontana Dam. Our first planned zero is there, but since we have already taken six zeros we will be skipping it.

NOC

NOC
Day 16 (4/26/19) R
Miles – 8.8
Total miles – 144.6

Rain started at about 10:00 and lasted throughout the night. Come morning, it was lightly raining. We packed as much as we could inside the tent and then got out to complete the packing for a wet day of hiking. Fog blanketed the landscape around us. It was very beautiful. With only 8.8 miles to get to town, we moved out into the fog. We dropped down to Tellico Gap and then we started a good size up. The clouds swirled about us as we reached the days high point, the fire lookout in top of Wesser Bald. We climbed to the top of the fire lookout and all we cold see was fog. The clouds did break a bit as we started down. As we worked our way down towards Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the clouds slowly broke up and the sun came out. By the time we reached the bottom, it was more sunny than cloudy. We got a room for the night and went to eat lunch. Our seats in the restaurant overlooked the Nantahala River. We could not get into it room until 3:00, so we repacked our food for the next section and dried all our wet gear as we waiting for our room. The rest of our day was relaxing and getting ready for the next section.

Slack pack 3 and then onward

Spring beyond Rocky Bald
Day 15 (4/25/19) R
Miles – 21.84
Total miles – 135.8

Luna

We had another early start. A little before 6:00, we woke to the sound of water sprinkles on the tent. It did not last long but it got us up. We did not want to pack wet tents. According to the weather report, we are suppose to have rain today and tomorrow. Throughout the day it did lightly rain, but not enough to put on rain coats. From what Odometer saw, it should start around 9:00 tonight and go through the afternoon tomorrow.
We started hiking at seven. Gutsy joined us for a short 3.6 mile slack pack. We had a short climb and then we dropped to a road when Odometer was waiting for us. We pulled our packs out of their van, filled up water bottles, and we were ready to go. We said our goodbyes to Gutsy, Odometer, and Luna. Their help has been a God send and we are very grateful. We had no idea how important our encounter with Gutsy would become on day two of our trip.
We had several good climbs and Winding Stair Gap was the first. We have not hiked with our backpacks in almost a week, given the zeros and slack packing. So we were slow with the added weight, but slow and steady makes easy work as we climb. We took our firste break near Siler Bald Shelter. We past several balds as we climbed up Wayah Bald Mountain.
A comment on AT terms: On the AT, there are gaps and notches. Out west, they are called passes or saddles. I’m not sure why the names are different. It could be gaps and notches were a common term when people first started to name these mountains. Notches occur up in New England. Balds are areas where trees do not grow. They are big grass fields. One would think that trees would slowly grow into them, but they haven’t.
In mid-afternoon, we stopped by Wayah Bald Shelter to get out of the cold wind and take a break. There were four other hikers, who looked like they were done for the day. After leaving the shelter, we traversed a ridge line and worked our way north. All day, the sky had been cloudy with sporadic rain and wind. We went by Licklog and Burning Town aGaps. Who comes up with these names? Finally we climbed up to Cold Spring Shelter, which was packed with hikers all around the shelter. After a quick dinner, we could hike for a nother houre or so before it got too dark. After a dinner of sweet and sour pork, we hiked on. We were looking for a place away from people and we found it at a spring two miles away. It is far from being level, although it has very good drainage for the rain that is suppose to come tonight. We hope the rain holds off until tomorrow, which will be a short day for us. Nantahala Outdoor Center. It is just 8.8 miles away.

Slack Pack 2

Rock Gap
Day 14 (4/24/19)
Miles – 20.48
Total miles – 113.9

We woke around 6:20. That is one of the earliest starts of the trip. We packed up the tents and put our grear in the van. After a quick breakfast of banana not muffins, it was time to hike. Gutsy and Luna, their dog, will walk the twenty miles to Rock Gap with us, while Odometer drives around to the other end. The trail north was not difficult as we began climbing away from the gap. The trees are just beginning to bud, so we could see the surrounding mountians through the limbs and branches. In a few weeks, the trees will thicken with leaves and we will not see anything through them. We climbed to the top of Standing Indian Mountian. Then the trail followed ridges east across numerous gaps. We took our first break somewhere near Carter Gap Shelter, but we never saw the shelter. We slowly worked out way northward, and stopped for water at Betty Creek Gap. It was around 1:30 and we had covered 12 of the 20+ miles to Rock Gap. The next obstacle was Mt. Albert. It was not hard as the trail rode up the shoulder of the mountain, but when we reached the final assent, then it became a big, steep climb. For years we had talked with other hikers about the AT. You get an image in your head about how hard it is and what the climbs are like. Nothing, so far, had matched our expectations, until that climb up to Mt. Albert. It was a long set of steep stairs and scrambling up rocks. We were very glad we only had light day packs and not our heavy backpacks. The climb topped out at an old fire lookout tour. We stopped for a long break and looked out at the view. Luna crashed under the tower with us. We were all tired. The kids and Papa Raven climbed as high as they could for an even better view. We were therr for only about ten minutes when Odometer showed up. He had hiked in from the other direction to meet us. She stayed for one picture and then headed back down. From the fire lookout, we only had six miles of down to reach the van. As we hiked down, Bling looked for a spring, because we were out of water. After about a half hour, he found one and we all stopped for a long drink. The day had been warm, so we were going through water faster than we expected. We arrived at the van around 6:00. Not bad for our first 20.5 mile day, in the AT. Odometer had brought hot dogs for our dinner and we quickly ate them. As the sun was getting low, we played one game of Skip Bo and then headed to our tents.
Mama Raven felt a little better this morning however her hiking endurance is low. As the day went on she felt stronger. In fact she had not felt this good since out first day of our trip. Bling’s sore throat is almost gone. We have had him take a good bit of NyQuil, trying to stop his cold from getting any worse. He did twist his ankle again, the same one he hurt a few days ago. It is now swollen further around the ankle and bruised in another area. Despite this, he has been walking normally on it without a limp. This has surprised us since it is so swollen. He has assured us it is fine. He claims nothing is broken or he would not be able to walk as well as he is.
Tomorrow Gusty and Odometer will slack pack us for a short 3.6 miles section. That way we will have an easy time on a big up. Then we will take back our heavy packs and head for NOC. It had been great to spend time with Gutsy, Odometer, and Luna. They have really helped us out when Mama Raven was so sick. The kids have grown very fond of Luna and they will miss her. We our very grateful for their help and friendship. Thank you!

A quite time

Pickens, SC
Day 12 and 13 (4/22/19 and 4/23/19)
Miles – 0
Total miles – 93.5

4/22/19

Mama Raven slept through the night, first time in twelve days. She was tired all morning. We sorted through the food and got the packs ready to head out. Our plans on leaving are a bit up in the air. Gutsy needs to help a friend at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon and she wants be with us as we leave Deep Gap. We are thinking of not leaving until tomorrow night and camping at Deep Gap. That way we can start hiking first thing Wednesday morning. Another zero will give Mama Raven and Bling more time to heal. Last night, Whisper, Mama Raven, and Gutsy stayed up late and watched a movie called Temple Grandin. All three loved the movie.
Around noon we all took a drive to see some of the local sights. First we went to an old mill just outside of town. None of the buildings were open but we could see the 20′ water wheel, an old whiskey still, and the cotton gin. Next we drove to Table Rock, a large rock out cropping northeast of town. Our last stop was Cesar’s Head. The top of this large rock wall was about 2000′ above Pickens and it had great views across the South. They are a number of hiking trails all about these mountains. It is really pretty country.
On the way back to the house, Bling informed us that he had a sore throat. Great, the one person who had not gotten sick is starting to show signs. If we can keep it to just a sore throat, that will be great. Not hiking will also help. We are still planning on driving up to Deep Gap tomorrow afternoon. Our plans have changed so many times in the last week, I do not know what will happen. One of the major thing to a successful thru-hike is to be flexible. We’re doing our best.

4/23/19

This was another rest day. We did a little work on our food section. Since we are slack packing part of it, we will not need some of the food we sent. If we do not need it, why carry it? We did pick up some medicine for Bling. We are hoping, if he rests today, he will not develop a bad cold. Odometer told us about a AT hiker in Tennessee, weilding a machete on the trail at other hikers. Police are hunting for the man. Hope they catch him soon before somebody gets hurt and before we reach Tennessee!
In the late afternoon we loaded up the van and drove to Deep Gap. We made a stop at the South Carolina/Georgia border and the other stop at an Ingles grocery store in Franklin, North Carolina. We needed dinner. We made it to Deep Gap before the sun set. We pitched our tents and everyone crawled into the van to play a few hands of Skip Bo, a game Gusty and Odometer tought us. Odometer said the machete weilding hiker has been arrested. Good!

What are we doing in South Carolina?

Pickens, SC
Day 11 (4/21/19)
Miles – 0
Total miles – 93.5

Josh and Molly

What are we doing in South Carolina? Now that is a very good question, considering the AT does not pass through this state at all. In fact, we are a good 80 miles from the AT. It all started about 2:00 this morning when Mama Raven had a horrible coughing fit. It lasted a couple of hours and she could never get back to sleep. About 6:00 am, she grudgingly agreed to go to the ER and see what could be done to get rid off her congestion and cough. Papa Raven has been trying to get her to go for awhile, but Mama Raven is as stubborn as they come. He was concerned that she had developed a sinus infection or phenomena. We both also realized this would be the last town we come to for awhile that would have a doctor in it. Colds do not usually last 11 days. We walked over to the ER and soon she was in a examination room.
Today’s plan was to slack pack 21 miles north from Deep Gap NC. Gutsy and her husband were going to pick us up at 8:30 and drop us off at the trail head. Papa Raven texted them about Mama Raven and they drove over to the hospital. As for Mama Raven’s prognosis, nothing major is wrong other than deydration and an upper respiratory infection. The doctor gave her an IV, with antibiotics, steroid to decrease bronchial inflammation, and a narcotic that acts as a cough suppressant. The doctor said this would be the fastest way to get the medication in the system. He also highly recommend to let the medicine take effect today and tomorrow before we hiked again. We were out of the hospital by 9:00. Gutsy and Odometer offered to take us to their house, in SC, for a few days. We took them up on their offer, and we get to visit a new state and see more of the South.
We started the two hour drive and Mama Raven went to sleep. Something in the meds put her to sleep. That is a very good thing. When we reached Gutsy’s house, we put Mama to bed. She sleep for about 5 hours. She woke mid afternoon. Gutsy made a wonderful stew for dinner. Her son Josh, who is quiet a celebrity in these parts because of his fiddle playing and his twelve year old daughter Molly dropped by for dinner. Last full, Josh won top banjo player in South Carolina and third place on the fiddle. Molly, who plays banjo, and Josh entertained us with their amazing bluegrass duo. We had a great evening with everyone listening to music and playing cards. We will have another day off tomorrow, under doctors orders. Mama Raven needs a quite day tomorrow and then we will be back to the trail. We have not mentioned this but several days ago Bling experienced a nasty sprang ankle. Bling did not let on for awhile how severe it was until the Haiwassee hotel when we saw it. It was black and purple and terribly swollen. This is the same ankle he pulled some ligaments in, last summer, it looks like he has done it again. This break in hiking will also benefit Bling.

Slack pack 1

Hiawassee
Day 10 (4/20/19) SR
Miles – 15.67
Today miles – 93.5

Today was are first slack pack. Gutsy and Odometer came by our hotel room at 8:30. They brought four day sacks. We loaded up warm clothing, rain gear, food, and water. Then they drove us up to Deep Gap NC. Today’s weather forecast was for cold temperatures and rain. When we got to Deep Gap there was about 2″ of snow on everything. It was cold. Everyone, including Odometer unloaded and got ready to hike back to Dick’s Creek Gap. Odometer took the lead, because he has hiked this section of trail before. Shortly after we began hiking, it started to snow. It was beautiful. The trees, plants, and all the ground about us were covered

in a fluffy blanket of snow. We hiked it quickly because it was so cold. Only Bling brought gloves, so the rest of us had freezing fingers. It did warm a little as we hiked but not enough to stop the snow. Our first break was at Muskrat Creek Shelter. It was good to take a break out of the falling snow. As we hiked on, we dropped in attitude and the snow started to melt, chunks of it falling from the trees. It continued to rain on and off. After several hours, we met up with Gutsy, who hiked in from the other direction. We came to the Plum Orchard Shelter for another break. There was about eight other hikers at the shelter and they were calling it home for the day. We talked a bit, with only 5 miles to go, we headed out. As we dropped to the last of the ridges, it started to rain and did not stop. We reached Dick’s Creek Gap and piled into Gutsy’s and Odometer’s van. We stopped by Ingles grocery store for dinner, which we ate in the hotel room. Tomorrow, Gusty and Odometer will drive us back to Deep Gap, NC and we will slack pack north to Rock Gap and camp for the night.

Odometer

What! Another zero?

Hiawassee
Day 9 (4/19/19) R
Miles – 0
Total miles – 77.8

Another storm, more lightening, pouring rain, roaring wind, and another zero! This is not what we expected when we began our hike over a week ago. The hotels in Hiawasee are filled to capacity with hikers. Mama Raven gets another day of rest. She woke this morning with an actual voice although, it is a good bit sqeecky but, she can speak again! Slowly she is improving. We were going to go to the Urgent Care for some antibiotics, however the Urgent Care in the guide does not exist. There is a hospital, but she does not want to go to the ER for a simple head cold. Additionally, we tried some local physicians but they do not take walk ins and no appointments were available. Thus we will continue the decongestion medicine from the drugstore. Rosiewalking recommend wintergreen essential oils for congestion. We have not found any in the local store here in Haiwassee. but we will keep any eye open for it further along the trail.
Having only hiked barely eighty miles of the AT does not allow us to be experts of the trail. There is no disrespect in this comment but many hikers on the AT are a different type of hikers than what we are familiar with on the PCT and CDT. First of all, smoking is common on the AT. It is nearly unheard of on the other trails. The most common question we are always asked is do we carry a weapon? No we don’t. However out here I am beginning to think it is common. We have actually seen a hiker or two wearing a gun and gun belt. Also a large knife tied down to their leg has been observed a few times. We noticed, when a shelter was reached by mid afternoon that is where their day of hiking ends. We are not known for being fast hikers however, out here, when ten miles is a big day for most of the other hikers, our fifteen mile days are looked at in awe, we are surprised by this, especially since we know we are not hiking at our top form right now. Despite these minor differences we have enjoyed the hikers we have met along the way.
We just want to say thank you for all of your good wishes and encouragement sent to us in the comment section. We might not respond back individually, but all The Ravens read and savor every one of them! We are always surprised that the same people keep following our hiking blog. You have all become endearing members of our hiking family and as much as you like to hear about our hiking adventures, we equally excited to hear from you.
Our plans are changing, just a bit. Gutsy and her husband, Odometer will slack pack us tomorrow. That will make this next section a bit easier. A slack pack us when you hike part of the trail with minimal gear, and someone brings the rest of your other equipment to your endpoint.

Hiawassee

Hiawassee
Day 8 (4/18/19)
Miles – 5.15
Total miles – 77.8

It’s a town day. We were up and on the trail by 7:45. That was our best start yet. On the CDT and PCT, we got up at 6:00 just about every morning. So far on the AT, we are struggling to do the same. Barely light it is at that hour of the morning, thus we sleep right past it. Plus being under the weather, we figure it is more important to sleep as much as possible. The morning began with a big up first thing and then the trail became easier with the usual ups and downs.
Our food for the next section is at Top of Georgia, which is .5 miles north of Dick’s Creek Gap. We had to choose to stay there or head down to Hiawassee. Top of Georgia has a few tiny cabins that sleep only two, a bunk house that is already full, and very little food sources to maintain a family of four for any length of time. Hiawassee is a full blown town with many amenities. We had to make our decision now because there is no cell service if we get too much closer to Dick’s Creek Gap. After we talked it over, we decided to go on to Hiawassee.
We hiked several miles and stopped to call a hotel in Hiawassee about a room and a ride. We got both. Our pickup time was set for 11:15. We hiked quickly and got to Dick’s Creek Gap at 10:15. Bling and Papa Raven walked down to Top of Georgia and picked up our boxes and returned with time to spare. Our ride came a bit late, however a short time later we were in our room.
Another storm is coming in tonight and it will rain all day tomorrow. We will take another zero. The one good thing about Mama Raven’s cold is twice now it has gotten us off the trail when bad weather came through.


Slow but sure, that’s all she can do

Addis Gap
Day 7 (4/17/19)
Miles – 15.49
Total miles – 72.6

Well Mama Raven was no better this morning. Again, she has no voice , and her head is filled with congestion. We did not push it today and took our time on the ups. We just keep plugging along and made 15.5 miles more by 6:30. That is when we called a halt and put Mama Raven to bed.
We had two big obstacles today, both were ups. We got out of camp after 8:00 and contoured over to Blue Mountain and then the trail dropped about 1000′. We stopped to eat something before starting a steep 1000′ climb. Just before we left, a SUV drives up with a man we met back in Neel Gap. He wanted to interview us for his YouTube channel. Papa Raven did the interview since Mama Raven could not speak. We will post the URL when he has it up. His wife offered Mama Raven some extra strength congestion medicine. She eagerly accepted the offer. They warned us of the upcoming storm and said we should wait it out. We will see. We said our good byes and headed up the mountain.
The up did not take too long, it was just the biggest we have experienced on the AT. Shortly after reaching the top, we started down the other side and the beginning of our next big up, Indian Grave Gap. At the gap was the same couple who interviewed us but this time they were doing trail magic. We got a few things to eat and drink, talked with everyone sitting there, and then started up. This up was a little gentler but a good bit longer. It was well into the afternoon before we reached the top. Then we rode ridges until we called it quits for the day.
The weather was warm today and started out clear. As the day went along, clouds began to move in. Tomorrow night is suppose to start raining and continue into Friday. There is suppose to be four inches of rainfall. We are not sure what we will do. Mama Raven has been fighting this cold for a week now and she is not getting better. Being in the rain will not help. We are thinking about picking up our food at Dick’s Creek Gap and heading down to Hiawassee. There is an Urgent Care there. We will get to Dick’s Creek Gap midmorning tomorrow.

The walking dead

Chattahoochee Gap
Day 6 (4/16/19)
Miles – 16.28
Today miles – 57.2

We hiked out. That is not to say Mama Raven was over her head cold. She just could not sit and longer. As we hiked throughout the day, we took several long rest breaks. Mama Raven was exhausted by the end of the day. She just wants to curl up and sleep. She still has no voice to speak with. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
We started hiking strong at 9:00, but we did not get far. We stopped at the outfitter to pick up some more antihistamines. Then it was up the hill from Neel Gap. The climb was not bad. We took it slow and easy. The day was sunny and warmer with very little wind. This was not the case yesterday. The trail was littered with tree branches from yesterday’s windy storm. Once we reached the top, we followed ridges for most of the morning. We took one long break at an opening in the trees. Mama Raven sleep a bit. A short time later we came to some trail magic. As we came down to Tesnatee Gap, there was a van and a table of food and cold drinks. Since we ate a short time before, we only had a donut, root beer, and a few homemade chocolate chip cookies. It was a welcomed treat. Quiet a few hikers had gathered around and have been there several hours just eating, relaxing and talking. There also was a large tub filled with hand made crotched beanies. They were made for the hikers to take free by “The Crochet Ladies” of Bethlehem Methodist Church. Mama Raven went through the tub and chose her new beanie. She already has one, but she said this one is hand made and it comes with a prayer attached that says wear this and “know God is with you wherever you go. This was made for you with God’s love and our prayers.” Mama Raven loves her new hat. We stayed and talked for a half hour and then headed out. The climb from Tesnatee Gap was hard. We gained 500′ in a half mile. The rest of the day was easy. We headed north on an old dirt road. It was well graded and wide. Mama Raven really started to drag in the afternoon, so we decided to stop early. We came to Chattahoochee Gap and there was plenty of room for both tents. I called it home.
l really hope she feels better tomorrow.

King Tut

Zero

Neel Gap
Day 4 and 5 (4/14/19, 4/15/19) R
Miles – 0
Total miles – 40.1

4/14/19
The wind started before we went to bed and it went on all night. As the sun came up, so came the rain. It was a hard rain. It continued all morning and finally started to break up mid afternoon. There was a tornado warning nine miles away in Blairsville, which is where Gutsy took us for dinner last night. Flood warnings were all around us. Thunder and lightening storms passed by all day. We are very relieved to not have been hiking in such extreme weather conditions. As the sun set everything was breaking up and blue sky could be seen. Tomorrow it is supposed it be clear, cold, and windy. We will be hiking out.

4/15/19

Whisper is still having coughing fits and Mama Raven is still sick. She has no strength, congested, coughing, and very tired. We have decided to stay one more day. Hiking out would be very hard on her on such a windy and cold day. It is in the mid 30’s outside with very strong winds. Mama Raven settled down in the cabin for the day. Bling and Whisper walked up to the outfitter up at the gap. We needed AAA batteries, and something different to eat. For the most part, we had a quite day in the cabin. Mama Raven slept a lot. We watched the heartbreaking news of Notre Dame Cathedral. Sometime in the afternoon, the wind let up and the air warmed up into the low 40’s. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer with light wind. Another storm is coming in Thursday night and Friday. Welcome to the East coast!

First town

Neel Gap
Day 3 (4/13/19)
Miles – 9.81
Total miles – 40.9

It was a warm night and everyone slept well. Today is a town day and we only have 9 miles to go. Hoping to get there quickly, we headed down to Lance Creek then climb back to the ridge top. The trail followed the ridge for several miles going from saddles to peaks. We cut off the trail to take a break at Woods Hole Shelter. We never made it to the shelter because it was too far off trail. Instead we stopped at a spring. Soon after our break, we meet back up with Gutsy. We hiked near each other up the strenous steep climb of Blood Mountain. At the top of Blood Mountain is another shelter. It is a big stone building with two rooms. From the mountain top we had great views West, although clouds obscured some of it. We sat for a brief period to enjoy the view and talk to Smooth Sailing, who has hiked the entire AT multiple times. From the top of the mountain, we are about 2.5 miles to Neel Gap. Around 1:30, we walked into the Neel Gap. Gutsy was meeting her husband, who was bringing her food. We needed to decide what to do. Tomorrow there is a 100% chance for rain during the day and 60% that night. There is suppose to be high winds on the ridge and lightening. So far, this trail has been mostly on ridges and the top of mountains. With a storm coming in, that will not be a great place to be. Also, Whisper is feeling better but still coughing, and Mama Raven is feeling worse. She’s very congested and has started a cough. She has completely lost her voice. It would be better if she rested for a day and not be out in the rain. Therefore we will stay put for a day. The first option is at Neel Gap where there is an outfitter and hostel. The hostel cost $20 per a person and has no laundry. There are some cabins .3 miles down the road. Papa Raven called and they had two cabins left for $72 including laundry. This was an easy decision to make so down the road we walked. Around 4:30 Gutsy and her husband, Odometer, showed up. They offered to take us down to Blairsville for dinner. Of course we took them up on it. We had an excellent dinner of burgers. It was great to sit and just visit. Later they returned us to our cabin.

Smooth Sailing

The Sick Family

Dan Gap
Day 2 (4/12/19) R
Miles – 15.3
Total miles – 31.1

The rain started around midnight and continued on and off all night. When it was not raining, the wind blew hard and the trees would drop water on us. Around 3:30am, Mama Raven got up and announced that she had Whisper’s cold. She took a Benadryl and was able to sleep until morning. We were slow to get moving as we listenened to the rain. Everybody else around us was doing the same. Finally around 7:30, we ate breakfast and started packing. Packing for rain is never fast. It has been awhile since we have done it, thus we were a little rusty. We could be heard saying “oh yeah, we have got to do this or that. Nonetheless, the job got done. When the tents were the only items left, we carried our packs to the shelter and returned to camp to take down the soggy tents. There were about ten other people in the shelter doing the same thing we were, slowly getting ready. Short time later, with our rain gear on and umbrellas in hand, we hiked up the trail. Misty, grey, fog completely blanketed the mountain. It was quiet beautiful.
Spring is just beginning to arrive. Pine forest is what we are used to hiking in out west, but it is not what exists here in Georgia. Nobody has been able to tell us what type of trees they are. Gutsy believes they are populars. Obviously they are some sort of deciduous trees because they are bare except for a few green buds opening up at the base of the trees. The ground is covered with a thick layer of dead brown and grey leaves with a few tender young green plants beginning to break through the decayed leaves.
The days trail was very easy. Of course there were ups and downs, but they were not that hard, and also there was a lot of contouring. The rain stopped, but the trees kept dropping water on us. It was not until mid-day that the clouds lifted and we started to dry.
Soon after we started to hike, we realized that Papa Raven was also coming down with Whisper’s cold. Both parent Ravens moved slowly all day. We had sore throats, sinus head aches, and muscle pains. At one point, we we’re blessed with a rare view, which faced to the South. We stopped to dry our gear and have a snack as we enjoyed the scenery.
In the late afternoon we stopped at a spring to fill our water bottles and eat dinner. Mama Raven was ready to stop for the day. She hurt everywhere and just wanted to lay down. But the kids wanted to do another 1.5 miles. We did not make it that far. However, we found a place at the top of a gap and called it home. Papa Raven was actually feeling better, but Mama Raven was feeling horrible, even her eye balls were hurting. Despite this, we managed to pull off another fifteen mile day. We were supposed to only do. twelve, so it was another good day of hiking.
Tomorrow we will reach our first food drop at Neel Gap. The plan at the moment is to hike in get our food and hike out. Our big concern is tomorrow night and Sunday, there is a huge storm moving in. We are expecting 1.5″of rain, high winds, and thunder and lightening. Hiking in this will not be fun. We met Gutsy, a Triple Crowner, today from South Carolina. This year she is only doing a small section of the AT. She reminds us a lot of our dear friend Catwater, who we miss dearly.

Gutsy

Well, it’s a beginning

Hawk Mountain Campsite
Day – 1 (4/11/19)
Miles – 15.8
Total miles – 15.8

We were up and moving by 7:00 and took care of a few last minute things, packed the car, and went to breakfast. Chick-Fil-A is very popular in the east. There seems to be one on every other corner. This was our first time eating at them (except for Bling) and our final meal before our hike. Mrs. Bunt and The Ravens had a leisurely breakfast and began driving to Amicalola Falls by 9:00am. Whisper feels better today but her cough is out of control. Yesterday, Mrs. Bunt took us to a drugstore for cough medicine to help her, but she is still plagued with bouts of cough fits. When we arrived, we stopped at the visitor center to sign in and get a short talk about the trail and what to expect. Additionally, we were given official AT tags for a our packs. We are hikers number 2,113, 2,114, 2,115, and 2,116. This means there are 2,112 hikers already on the trail and roughly 2,000 more that gave not been counted. Only 30% will make it to Maine. We definitely not on the CDT trail where only three hundred began the trail. Mrs. Bunt drove us further up the mountain to the trail head. It was 11:00 and we took a few pictures, said our goodbyes, and headed up there trail. Despite Whisper being sick, we had a great day yesterday hanging out with Mrs. Bunt in her new home outside of Atlanta. Thank you Mrs.Bunt!!! We had 7.7 miles of hiking to get to the top of Springer Mountain, the official beginning of the AT.
The trail rolled up into short mountain tops then dropped us down to saddles, but it was always climbing. Just before our last push to Springer Mountain, we took a brief break. We ate 1/3 of the amazing brownies our dear friend Karin made for us. We topped it off with See’s Candy provided by Broc and family. The rest of the climb to the top of Springer Mountain went by quickly, and were at the beginning of the AT. We did not stay long. We took a few pictures, loaded the packs on our backs and headed out. The next section was easy, being all down. The miles rolled by. When we reached the bottom, we stopped for dinner. Next, there was a long climb back up to the ridges. When it was almost dark, we came into Hawk Mountian Shelter and stopped for the night. We pitched our tent amongst ten other tents. We avoided the biggest and flattest spot because if it rained it looked like it would become a pond. Nearly sixteen miles starting after 11:00am, not bad for our first day. We are all tired, but that is to be expected.

Well we are on our way

4/9/19

The last few days have been insanely busy! There is so much to do to get ready for a long hike and to prepare our house for someone else to live in for the next six months. Additionally, taxes had to be completed. The Ravens are tired. We did not even have time to make phone calls to notify friends of our departure. Papa Raven finally called it quits at 11:30pm and Mama Raven at one in the morning.The alarm went off at 3:30am. Way too early, but we had to drive to Grammie Raven’s house and get a ride to the airport. We were about 10 minutes late, leaving the house. Saying goodbye to the cats was a bit slow and sorrowful. They thought that it was play time and kept running around the house. Mom was waiting for us when we arrived. Quickly we unloaded the vehicle and loaded mom’s car. Then off we went. At the airport we said goodbye to mom and went in to check our packs in. Our flight to Atlanta had a layover in Nashville. At the check in station, we found out that our Nashville to Atlanta leg had been cancelled. Instead, they booked us on a flight from San Diego to Dallas and then on to Atlanta. It all works out, we will just get into Atlanta two and half hours later.The flight was smooth, with only one glitch. A thunderstorm was over Atlanta and our plane had to circle around until the weather broke up. Mrs. Bunt, our kids p.e. teacher from years ago, picked us up at the airport and took us to her home. She will be taking is to Amicalola Falls tomorrow.4/10/19We are delaying our departure by one day. Whisper is sick. She had a cold four days ago, and she was over most of it, so we thought. Yesterday’s travels caused a relapse. We felt it was better to give her a day off than pushing her. We got to hang out with Mrs. Bunt a little longer. Here is insight into the two personalities of the parent Raven’s: Mama Raven says “we are all ready a day behind schedule.” Papa Raven says “we are not late, the schedule starts tomorrow.”