Southern Nantahala

It’s nearing the end of week two of trail life for Moonbow and Lightning Bug. We are having as much fun as the day we started, and definitely feeling stronger everyday. After recovering from the bitter cold night at Blue Mountain and taking a “Nero” (near-zero) day to defrost in Hiawassee we were ready to hit the trail again. This week we are trying to up our mileage to more like 12-16 miles a week, now that we are accustomed to trail life a bit more. 

The first day back on we met and hiked with two awesome guys, one named 3D and the other named Rob (no trail name yet). We held a swift pace with them, and Moonbow got to chat with 3D about the nonprofit world, which he and his wife are very involved with. Moonbow, Rob and 3D geeked out about LOTR and GOT and overall it was a beautiful, sunny day. 3D and Rob had great, positive energy and we had a great time hiking together. That night we stayed at Deep Gap Shelter and snagged the upstairs nook in the cozy little lean-to. We also met a super cool dude from Maine named Costas, who had a great set of felted wool hat and gloves. When we expressed how much we liked them he said his wife made them and she would happily make us some. He then got our info and picture, texted it to his sweet wife, Judy, and she says she will notify us when they are done and send it to the next mail drop! How nice is that?! See a pic of us, 3D and Rob below: 

  

Seriously, we have met the NICEST, COOLEST people on the trail. Everyone is so kind and considerate of one another, and so supportive of every hiker. We are all experiencing the same adventure and so there is an instant bond. There is absolutely no sense of competition whatsoever, and so far everyone follows the “hike your own hike” mantra and also seems really open to connecting with other hikers. 

The next day we hit the trail again and headed to… The North Carolina Border!!! It was a long day, and the last three miles, as we entered Nantahala National Forest, seemed interminable. Finally, with super sore feet, we found the border and knocked out our first state! Definitely a sense of accomplishment. However, until we got there, Moonbow felt a lot like this:  

 

 That night we camped by the border and met more new friends. Moonbow stepped in dog poop and was pretty mad, but the owners were apologetic and the pup ever so cute, so it was ok. we ended up hiking with the dog and owners a lot of the day and enjoying it immensely 🙂

That evening we summited Standing Indian Mountain so we didn’t have it in front of us the next morning.  We camped at Beech Gap, all in all a pretty uneventful day. 

The next day we hiked from Beech Gap to Long Branch Shelter, and it was relatively easy going except for a CRAZY steep part called Albert Mountain. It was SO FOGGY that after clambering up boulders on all fours we didn’t even get a view!!  

 Here is the fire watch tower atop it, the official 100 mile marker of the trail northbound! Lightning Bug climbed up only to see… more fog. 

The final morning of this week (this morning) we woke up REALLY early to knock out 7.5 miles before 11:00 am and catch the shuttle into town. We made it by 10:30, and are in Franklin, NC. We are so excited to meet up with all our trail pals, including Aussie Legs (now Muddy Duck, Red Back and Fire Bear), Just Gary, who is now Photo, and Rope Burn. We’re hoping Captain Planet is here with us tomorrow!! Everyone in Franklin is so nice! So far we have showered, looked at internet and stuffed ourselves with Mexican food. Tonight we will have dinner and 100 mile celebratory drinks with all our friends!!  Now look how clean Moonbow is!!! 

 

Overall it was a GREAT week. We averaged over 12 miles a day and are meeting our mileage goals, or exceeding them! We are really excited for our first FULL zero day tomorrow, in which we plan to relax, shop for gear and eat more food. We feel so lucky to be having such an amazing experience already on the AT! More later, probably! 

—Moonbow 

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