Our first night to sleep in a shelter and it was a good night to secure a spot. Although neither of us slept well because of the loud snoring hikers who shared the shelter, we stayed dry and out of the elements.
After we stuffed ourselves at the pancake breakfast in Helen, we got a ride back to the trailhead. When we arrived, a church from Hiawassee had set up a free food stand for hikers full of cheeseburgers, brownies and soda. Still full from breakfast, we took cheeseburgers and brownies 'to go' for lunch later down the trail.
At the Blue Mountain shelter, we found the number to a local church who was offering a free shuttle and pancake breakfast. All eight hikers at the shelter planned ahead the night before so we could get up early and make the hike down to Unicoi Gap where we'd catch the shuttle. We were given a free ride into town, pancakes, bacon, coffee, juice and a free ride to the store on the way back to the trail. Talk about trail angels!
Rock scrambles up Blue Mountain make for long, strenous miles
Today felt like a dream. Trail magic for breakfast and lunch! Helen was a strange town. It normally houses only 300 residents but during the summer can hold over 30,000 tourists. The town had a strangely vacant feel as we were there during the slow season. The German themed building designs made us feel even stranger about going into our first town. We hiked our shortest day, 8.1 miles, to Tray Mountain shelter and summitted Rocky mountain and Tray Mountain in the pouring rain. Shelter was much appreciated.