bri on the AT

Adventure Time on the Appalachian Trail

March 7 – day 7 Dicks Creek gap

Earlier start

It was so cold getting out of bed in the morning was something it seemed no one wanted to do. I had actually heated up to the point I was almost sweating but felt too lazy to take any layers off. So I took advantage of my heated state when I finally had to go to the bathroom so bad nothing could stop me from getting up. But after that, Cambyr and I decided it was too cold to even attempt to make breakfast especially if we didn’t have enough fuel. So we opted to just eat bagels while we walked in order to stay warm. All of our water had frozen during the night but lucky for us we were the only ones whose bottles were barely half full. So we topped them off with fresh spring water and headed out just before 8:00. Luckily within a few hours the Sun heated things up and we were hiking in comfortable temps. The sun was steadily shining to our right so we moved the water to that side as we hiked and each time we needed water it had melted more and more. It was turning into a fine day!

We kept snacking to compensate for not having our usual two packs of oatmeal and cocoa but managed to make it with good energy till noon.

Deep gap shelter

At noon we made it to deep gap shelter and by then it had warmed up significantly. I had to get rid of my down jacket I was so warm. We decided to eat right at the trail head for the shelter because it was flat and sunny. Cambyr was able to solar charge her phone and I tried charging the Garmin but it didn’t get much gain out of it. 

I headed down to the shelter to fill up the water and I was curious to see who else was down there. Whack-a-mole had just shown up and was planning a short day to hang out there. Although the trek down felt kinda far when we first attempted it with our packs on, it really wasn’t too far in that I saw the water source and could see the outline of the shelter. I have to admit it was the best looking shelter I’ve seen on the trip so far… It would have been a really nice place to stay. It was a two level one that was more enclosed liked a cabin. Diane and Whack-a-mole were both there chatting and then I got Diane’s crazy story about not wanting to stay were we stayed at Tray mountain shelter because she saw two jars of cut up meat an ax and that it had a “banjo vibe”. Well I don’t carry around the vibration of gear with me anymore so I didn’t feel that from the place and didn’t think anything of the ax and meat jars. We can live our lives seeing the worst case scenario and eventually we will be witness to a worst case scenario because we have practiced seeing it and feeling it for so long. Our we can live our lives practicing seeing the best and feeling the best case scenario and eventually witnessing a best case scenario because that is all that we know how to see. 

Trail magic

I have been seeing lots of best case scenarios on this trip and envisioning them all along the way. At deep gap were we finally got some decent cell reception I had to call a driver for fuel so we could comfortably make it for the next five days before our next resupply. First I called someone from the guide book. They didn’t answer so I hung up and tried another number. So I tried another number and they didn’t have any scheduled pickups and were done for the day. Then I called a number ”survivor” Dave recommended Ron Brown. Ron told me he was in Atlanta! Oops… But next thing I know Ron had a guy call me who was like totally hippie surfer sounding man and kept calling me dude but he worked out that a green Subaru would need there to hook me up. We agreed to be at the parking lot between 15-15:30 and Rod would meet us with the fuel for $20. As Cambyr and I approched the parking area I kept saying please be trail magic please be trail magic and sure enough no sooner did we both pop out of the woods did a woman approched us asking us to come over because they had food! So fun teaching my daughter to take food (and candy) from strangers (see see deep shelter gap section for my views on this). Debbie and Jon Mims we’re waiting for us. Like literally waiting for US! . 

It was so exciting to hear Debbie say she had already been following us and they were hoping to meet us out there! Just happened to line up a day they were free with our path on the trail! They drove three hours just to do trail magic! And it was awesome! They had vegetarian chili to accommodate everyone! So awesome I pigged out on two bowls!

They had sodas which I never drink… but two ice cold Fanta orange ones were just too tempting. Andrew Morton was there too. He came late to the Trey mountain shelter last night so we didn’t get his name then, only that he had gone 20 miles that day! He was really tall, but 20 miles is still a lot. He said he had been hanging there for an hour already eating a ton… But was having a hard time leaving. I totally understood him.

When we left we agreed we would tent at the same site so when we finished rummaging around the hike box for more free food we went and found Andrew. We set up camp near the fire pit and he just behind it, then we all sat around the fire eating.

Fast Fire Fanning Frisbees and new friends

Andrew bright a fridge for his luxury item and told us it also made a good cutting board and he used it to fan the fire we started laughing watching him fan

and teasing him about a trail name with all the Fs that related to him and started calling him Fquad since fast, fire, fanning, frisbee had four (quad) fs in it. And since we knew this hike would make his quads f-ing huge! Lol.

 I pulled out my guitar and played a bit, challenging both Andrew and Cambyr to whittle me a guitar pick!

We had a few excellent laughs (cambyr recorded one that I will try to put up on youtube soon and link here) and cambyr andi secretly hoped we’d hike the same place so he could be a part of our trail family (Tramily ) then we went to hang the bear bags!

PCT vs BCT methods

We compared methods with Andrew because this was now one of our favorite aspects of the evening ritual with people we met. There aren’t bear boxes in NC like there were in GA so we have to hang our food in the trees, and not just for the bears, but for the mice too! I accidentally left a snack in a closed zipped pouch on my backpack and it chewed through the zip during the night… lesson learned! Andrew watched us do what we call the bri cambyr method (BCT) And compared with his PCT (pacific crest trail) method and ours seemed far superior to his bag low and stuck in a tree! He agreed we had it going on! 

We fell asleep to the full moon and the smiles on our faces,that had no desire to leave, from having such a fun night with our new friend.

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  1. Alan Thornton March 12, 2020

    Reading this post, what kind of fuel do you use? I am planning a 27 miler between New Found Gap and Cosby Knob Shelter later this month in the Smokies traveling the AT and we may be crossing paths…Maybe Anyway I use denatured alcohol in my stove.

    • briana March 12, 2020 — Post Author

      Alan, We (and 90% of the thru-hikers I’ve seen) are using canister fuel (MSR or jet boil) the one person I talked to about the alcohol said they were ditching it at the next town. Hope to run into you on the trail we should be in the smokies in four days!

      • Alan March 13, 2020

        Hey thanks Briana for the fuel notes. Good luck with your travels through the Smokies. Be advised lots of rain right now in the forecast hence my later schedule to come up from Alabama on the 23rd. My hike will start at New Found Gap then hike to Cosby Knob within a 5 day period on the AT, then drop off at Cosby campground to return back home. I think you will be way ahead of me by then. When you get to Fontana Dam you will enjoy a nice shelter nicknamed the Fontana Hilton overlooking Fontana Lake with hot shower facilities nearby waiting for you. Also at Fontana Village you will find a good selection of food choices and a grocery store (small) to stock up on before continuing your hike. There is a post office also. I’ll be watching your progress on the mapshare, thanks for sharing! By the way, are you finding your water tests results indicating contamination?

        • briana March 14, 2020 — Post Author

          No water testing until the temperatures warm up! Stay tuned!

      • Alan March 13, 2020

        One more thought, in the Smokies you will find bear cables for hanging your food and backpacks. With the frequent use of these locations, mice have learned their way up the cables getting to your stuff. I read where you already have learned to keep pouches open but I take a few mouse traps baited with raisins or simply use my own ropes for hanging to avoid the mice. If using Verizon for your phone service, the majority of your travels through the Smokies while on the AT you will have cell service…Hope this is helpful info.

  2. Mike Miller March 12, 2020

    Really enjoy reading have fun

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