FKT: Caitlin Patterson - Duncan Ridge Trail (GA) - 2024-03-23

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Total time
10h 15m 28s
GPS track(s)

We began just before 7am with the hike up blood mountain. My two buddies who completed the entire route with me and I had all our food planned for the day in our packs - planning to just stop for water refills. It had rained the day before and was still pretty wet. At the AT/DRT junction, we picked up a couple more who would do the first little bit with us. We began our run together - 6 in all. Our leader, Chad, accidentally took a wrong turn but got us back on track quickly. 
I was shocked by the steep climbs. I knew there would be a lot of elevation but did not expect to feel like I was climbing up the side of a mountain! It was slick and I was thankful to have poles to help with the climbs. 
We descended into wolfpen gap where two of our friends had started their runs. They had water, so we refilled there, then continued the steep ascents and descents. Our first buddy turned around from wolfpen to go back to his car. 
At mulky gap, I had stashed water the night before. It was a relief to find it was still there and I had gotten the right place! After a refill and short rest, two more of our buddies took the road back to their cars at wolfpen gap. We had an incredible view at an overlook somewhere along this section. It was clear some work had been done on the trail. As I understand, a couple of races will be run soon on sections that we covered. 
Shortly after leaving mulky gap, we were trotting along and saw something strange on the trail. It was a small dog! He looked scared, wet, and hungry. We tried giving him food and water but he didn’t take much. We decided we needed to help him. Ryan wrapped him up in a rain shell and we took turns carrying him as we went along. We came to fish gap and stopped for a bit as we considered what to do with the dog. I called my husband and he agreed to meet us at our next water drop, the crossing with HWY 60. We got the dog to eat and drink a little and took turns carrying him. He eventually decided to run with us a bit, which was really cool. But most of that section was hiking.

Coming down to HWY 60 was beautiful. The trail was getting drier, which was a relief. My husband met us there with donuts, and again our water was there from the night before. We chatted with him a bit. I had told my two buddies I would be ok ending the effort there. Even though we wouldn’t have completed the full route, we had helped this dog and that felt good! However, we never even mentioned it at that stop, so we ate, refilled water, handed off Duncan (the dog), and went on our way. 
A few more substantial climbs, then we came to a beautiful section of rolling hills, without tons of rock, nice wide paths. The toccoa swinging bridge is stunning. We encountered a lot more people as we were closer to the finish. I felt so good as we were coming into the final few miles.
And then it was the finish! Long Creek Falls is absolutely beautiful and it was such a refreshment to hear and see the falls after such a long day on the trail. 
In the end, it wasn’t the fastest effort we might have done, but I’m so proud of us for getting through, not stopping when we thought we might, and helping little Duncan. We are searching for Duncan’s family, but he didn’t have a collar and seemed so relieved when he realized he was safe with us. All in all, a wonderful day! Looking forward to getting out there again and seeing if we can improve on the time.