Recently headed up for another section on the AT, this was in May. Loads of wildflowers and of course, rain.
This was a 16 mile overnight trip, we did 12 miles the first day, stopping at Muskrat Creek Shelter for the night. The plan was to stop at the GA/NC border at Bly Gap, but it was exposed and COLD. The wind was crazy even in the trees and the day spent its time dropping temps until it was in the 30s overnight.
We parked at the trailhead the night before and slept in the van. Not the most comfy of nights, but there were 2 other groups doing the same thing, all male. They came and introduced themselves while we were milling around sorting our stuff out. Let us know if we needed anything to just yell. It beat the heck out of the time Calamity and I slept in the van at a trailhead in Virginia and a truck of men pulled in around 2 in the morning and they were loud, more than a little drunk and kind of scary because they had decided since it was raining, they would sleep under a high-clearance truck also in the lot. To us, on the other side of them from the only exit and without any sort of cell signal, it looked like they were crawling under the other vehicles looking for hidden keys!
They soon crashed out and got up to leave by 6, but it was a scary moment. I am not without protection while out, especially when out with the girl. But having it and having to use it became two very distinct things that night.
I have since taken a few classes in self defense simply to become more comfortable with my options. But I have to say, I have only ever picked up a bad vibe once and that was from a local.
From Dick’s Creek to Bly Gap, the trail is very gentle. If I were doing a first-time backpacking trip with a child or newbie adult, the two best sections in GA (in my opinion) would be either from Springer parking to the campsites at the terminus or from Dick’s Creek to Plumorchard Gap.
The tree at Bly Gap near the GA/NC border.
After that point, the trail becomes crazy steep! It wasn’t flat by any means before, but there were places in this stretch where the next step up was level with my knee. And this went on for a couple of miles.
This was a gorgeous little moss bank, it looked like a child with green pompoms and glue had been set loose!
The only view on the stretch (in May)
I think that is Nantahala Lake in the distance. Have not verified yet.
Our next stretch is to Winding Stair Gap over Standing Indian. Not really looking forward to that climb!
Things to know:
Dick’s Creek parking is about 7 miles from Hiawassee, it’s just above the Hiker Hostel. The parking is a paved pull off off a paved road, it can hold about…10 cars or so and there is a dirt area next to it that can hold more. There is a campsite southbound about 1/10 mile away. There are picnic tables at the trailhead as well. There was no cell reception, I have AT&T and my partner has Verizon. Neither worked.
Deep Gap parking is way way down a long and winding dirt and gravel road. It is actually patrolled pretty frequently by the park service and seems to be a safe place to park. The trailheads are an hour apart via driving, so factor that in to any shuttle plans. There is also no service at Deep Gap, or really nearly anywhere along the trail in between. Try the single overlook (can’t miss it!) or the ridge above Muskrat Creek Shelter. It’s north of the shelter site, on the other side of the creek. There’s a sign pointing at another trail, Raven’s something. Go up that about…30 feet and there’s a view at the top as well as a nice campsite, if it’s not super windy! And, cell reception even on the notoriously bad (on the AT) AT&T network
The trail from Muskrat Shelter to Deep Creek Gap is rocky and downhill nearly the whole way, some parts are quite steep. It’s a pretty, woodsy hike with trickle springs and the only place we encountered mud, despite the 2 days of rain.