About the Author: Aspin is a young writer, who grew up in Michigan. She enjoys hiking, camping, photography, and spending time outdoors with her boyfriend and dog. She has dreams of long distance hiking, with plans to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2019. You can find her on Instagram (@brokeroaming), Facebook (facebook.com/brokeroaming), or her website (brokeroaming.com).
Day 9 I took a zero in Hiawassee, GA and mentally the day was hard. The crazy thing about taking a zero when you aren’t mentally ready to is the emotional struggle that goes on. There isn’t much to entertain you when you can’t walk, so you spend a lot of time thinking.
It’s really hard not to think about being home. Wondering what you would be doing if you were home, missing your own bed and shower. But then another part of you, the part that isn’t ready to get off trail, is like a grounded little kid who just wants to go play outside with their friends.
Either way you have to get “town chores” done, so on sore feet I went and stopped by the post office, got insoles for my shoes, and food from the local grocery store. Getting back to the room my feet were hurting so bad I just flipped onto the bed and didn’t get up again until I took a shower.
The day I got back on trail at Unicoi Gap was by far one of the hardest I had hiked. The entire day was climbing and descending two pretty big peaks. Along the way I broke down crying multiple times. My feet were hurting to the point that each step hurt and I was tempted to head back to town, but both times someone from my just starting tramily would come by.
The first time it was Sherpa (Mike) who assured me he had complete faith in my ability to get to the shelter and that he would be pushing to the shelter with the intention on seeing me there. The second time it was Lumberjack and Kate, whom I had stayed with in Blairsville. They sat with me and offered to stay right with me along the trail. We stayed pretty close, but after a bit I was just going too slow and they got ahead of me.
After a very long climb to Tray Mountain Shelter I walked up to the shelter and was greeted by applause and congratulations. I nearly burst into tears with the support I was getting from people I barely knew. Lumberjack and Kate saved me a campsite right with them and the three of us joined G, Sherpa and a few others sat around the fire laughing and joking until after 10pm.
Hanging out at Tray Mountain shelter
The next morning we took our time getting up and agreed to meet at Deep Gap Shelter. The walk was a struggle on my sore feet, but they hurt a little less than the day before. The terrain was easier than the day prior, but I continued to take my time getting up and down the hills.
I spent time sitting with Sherpa, joking over lunch and stopping along the way to talk to the other hikers. The last climb of the day really kicked our butts but we all met back up at Deep Gap Shelter. When we got there we found Sassafras (whom we had lost pretty early on) hanging around the shelter. Turns out he had only hiked 2 miles that day due to a bad ankle and he was hoping to see some familiar faces.
That night we sat around the fire along with Honey Buns and Phil. We spent hours laughing and enjoying our time at the shelter, squeezing as many people into the shelter as possible.
That night we fit 15 people into the Deep Gap Shelter (rated for 12 people). We all stayed warm and dry as a thunderstorm came rolling through.
Deep Gap Shelter
The morning at Deep Gap was a cold one. We all struggled to get out of bed because we were all so warm in the shelter. It was one of those morning where the phrase “No rain, no pain, no Maine” was muttered a couple times around the porch.
The morning was misty, foggy, and cold. While getting started was hard, the hike itself was nice. I did my best to “embrace the suck” and try to find the beauty in the unwelcoming weather. I took pictures of snails along the way, appreciated that the trail was lined with bright green grass and took pictures of the small cascades we passed.
After just 3.5 miles I made it to Dicks Creek Gap and hitched a ride in the back of a truck with Phil in to Hiawassee, GA. The original plan was to hero, by resupplying and heading out, but when G offered to pay for a room at the Holiday Express we all jumped on the opportunity. 2 rooms and 9 hikers later we were celebrating the fact that we were following our dreams, looking forward to tomorrow when we would cross the border into North Carolina and out of Georgia.
The trail heading into Dicks Creek Gap