AT 2017: Day 7, Dick’s Creek Gap to Bly Gap

And so I wrestle with the angel

Georgia/North Carolina border

The argument I had in my head last night, which started after my conversation with trail angel Miss Janet, continued through the day.

As I left Hiawassee and resumed my hike I kept hearing her say, "You're going too fast."

DateSunday, April 9, 2017
WeatherDry, warm and sunny
Trail ConditionsDry
Today's Miles9.0
Trip Miles78.3

I was running out of reasons to prove her wrong, but I still didn't know how I was going to slow down. I had a schedule I wanted to keep.

By day's end, though, the argument was over.

She won.

Sally Smith

To get back to the trail I had to call for a shuttle driver to pick me up at the motel. Sally Smith arrived promptly at the arranged time. Because she knew I had taken a shower during my stay, she allowed me to sit in the front seat, not in the back seat with the seat cover for pets and smelly, dirty hikers.

Sunny day

I started hiking just before 11 a.m. The sun was bright and warm.

Early into the day's hike I saw two hikers coming toward me. When I noticed they had yellow, plastic AT medallions like the one attached to my pack, I asked jokingly, "Hey, aren't you going the wrong way?"

Rainfall and Mountain Dew

They said they were doing a flip-flop and had started in Shenandoah National Park. Their names were Rainfall (left) and Mountain Dew.

Hikers doing a flip-flop hike start somewhere in the middle of the trail. Usually they hike all the way to a terminus, Springer Mountain or Mt. Katahdin, then fly or take a bus back to their starting point and continue in the opposite direction to finish at the other terminus. This is often done to fit a hike into a different seasonal period.

Rainfall and Mountain Dew said they had skipped the Smokies in their hike south, so in their case they were flipping their flip-flop. They intend to finish by hiking the Smokies in the fall.

Fire damage

Late last year this section of the trail was closed because of wildfires. The closure was from Dick's Creek Gap all the way to the Nantahala River, a distance of more than 67 miles. I didn't see any fire damage right away, but just past Plumorchard Gap I began to see scorched and charred trees.

My plan for today was to get to Muskrat Creek Shelter, but my late start meant I would need to push harder. Between the shelter and me were a lot of ups and downs, with an overall gain of more than 700 feet in elevation. The extra weight of a refilled food supply didn't help matters.

State line

As I rounded a bend in the trail I saw an modest sign nailed to a tree. It was the marker for the state line between Georgia and North Carolina.

I had reached a big milestone, the point of passing from the first state to the second of 14 on the trail.

Even in my excitement of reaching that point, here again I heard Miss Janet's voice in my head saying, "You're going too fast."

And finally I agreed.

No camping sign

Just up ahead at Bly Gap were a couple hikers setting up their tents. I noticed, though, there was a sign that said "No Camping."

Someone said they thought the sign referred to one side of the spring. After I reread the sign I realized it directed hikers to camp up on a ridge line, and there I saw some tents were already set up.

Two Chairz, who was also about to set up camp at the lower level, and I decided to do the right thing and move to the ridge.

Tent in camp

By stopping 2.8 miles earlier than I initially had planned, I had more time to relax, prepare dinner, and talk to other hikers.

Sunset on Bly Gap

As the sun set and I was comfortable in my tent, I knew I had made the right decision to stop here and not continue to Muskrat Creek.

Thank you, Miss Janet. You were right.

And so I wrestle with the angel
To see who'll reap the seeds I sow
Am I the driver or the driven
Will I be damned to be forgiven
Is there anybody here but me who needs to know

What it is to face this fever
As the full moon pales and climbs
Am I living truth or rank deceiver
Am I the victim or the crime
Am I the victim or the crime
Am I the victim or the crime
Or the crime


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.