Appalachian Trail Experience | Trip Report October 2018
We began our journey at Three Forks and ended at Woody Gap.
Three Forks | Mile 4.4 | Elevation 2,517 Feet
Woody Gap | Mile 20.6 | Elevation 3,145 Feet
Our day started at Woody Gap which has ample parking but gets full quickly. We loaded our gear. and piled into our shuttle. Our adventure began with a ride that had us all praying and our driver was not familiar with where he was dropping us off but we made it to Three Forks alive.
Michele | Senior Hiker 77 aka John | Mak aka Makensie | Not a German Shepard aka Baylee | Karen | Makensie aka Melissa
John couldn’t get everyones names right so Melissa became Makensie and Makensie became Mak. Had to be there! Baylee joined us for her first time on the trail and did amazing. Although she didn’t turn out to be the German Shepard she was thought to be as a puppy, we found out from a passing hiker that she is a fancy Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Way better! Again, you had to be there. Our group quickly settled into a rhythm and we became a well oiled machine. Our weekend was filled with lots of laughs, struggles, and successes.
Day One: Three Forks to Hawk Mountain Shelter
We began our hike just before lunch and made our way up the trail. At mile 5.3 we took a short side trail to Long Creek Falls where we stopped for lunch. The falls spills over 50 feet tumbling into a pool of water. It’s a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy your lunch. It’s very close to USFS Road 58 so it can have lots of visitors but still worth the visit. This was our shortest day at just over four miles with our side excursion.
We pulled into camp at the Hawk Mountain Shelter. We set up our tents, walked down to filter water then everyone took a rest. The shelter and picnic table was taken over by a family so we wound up using the bear box to cook our food on. We all ate, had some laughs, then everyone disappeared into their tents before the sun went down. In the middle of the night we were awoken by the Army Rangers blowing stuff up and lots of air traffic noise. So it wasn’t the greatest nights sleep but it just adds to the adventure. In the morning we awoke to witness the beginning of a new day. I love to watch the sunrise!
Day Two: Hawk Mountain Shelter to Gooch Mountain Shelter
After breakfast and coffee we broke camp and headed out for day two. This was our hardest and longest day at about eight miles. The hardest part of the day was Sassafras Mountain at 3,342 feet and Justus Mountain at 3,322 feet. It was quite the workout with several stops to catch our breath. Some spots seemed like they were straight up. Karen was always the first one to the top! About two miles from Gooch Mountain Shelter the drizzle of rain that we welcomed soon turned into a down pour. We donned our rain gear and continued on. We were happy to see that shelter sign and we headed straight for it. We gathered with other fellow hikers in the shelter until the rain stopped and the sun showed its face again. We met an awesome Mom who brought her son, a Boy Scout, for an overnight. Two friends, one from Hawaii and one from Boston and a few others. This was our favorite shelter and the tent sites were awesome. You can fit two tents on each site. We enjoyed our dinner with our new hiker friends first as we were all hungry after that tough day. John slept in the shelter and the rest of us set up our tents and settled in for the night. Makensie and I had a little critter around our tents but Baylee scared if off with a low growl.
Day Three: Gooch Mountain Shelter to Woody Gap
After breakfast with our fellow hikers we broke camp, said our goodbyes, and headed back on the trail. This was a much easier day at about five miles. I always tell everyone to keep a special treat in their car to have when they end their hike. For me it’s a cold coke in the cooler waiting for me. That’s all I could think of! We had some great views today as we gradually made our way towards Woody Gap. There was one section that was straight up but the rest of it was a breeze. We were all happy when we pulled into Woody Gap!
Part of the experience is understanding that you have to be ready for the unexpected and to expect the unexpected. The tough ascents and some rain only add to the memories of the adventure. When you feel like you just can’t do anymore all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.
I thank all of you for a great experience and I look forward to sharing the trail with you again some day. I hope that this experience gave you confidence to go out and explore on your own!