FKT: Justin Hamilton - Georgia AT (GA) - 2022-09-29

Route variation
Out & back
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
2d 8h 41m 48s

My original plan was to go SUPPORTED starting Friday Sep 30th. Hurricane Ian had other plans. I then decided to bump the date up to Tuesday the 27th, but this meant no crew or support would be available. I set out on Monday the 26th and placed gallons of Tailwind & Skratch super fuel in 5 different spots along the route. I also put 1 battery back up, 2 cans of spaghettios, potatoe chips, slim Jim’s, fresh socks and shoes at three of those 5 locations.

Cachet locations.

2 gallons with additional supplies were left at..

  1. Woody Gap
  2. Tesnatee Gap (water proof sleeping bag left here as well).
  3. Dicks Creek Gap

1 gallon was placed at..

  1. Neels Gap
  2. Unicoi Gap

I decided to start from Springer Mountain before sun up on Tuesday. I wanted to start in the dark and be chilly so I would have an idea of what was in store for me the next few nights. When I passed Three Forks, about 3 miles in.. I started to realize I didn’t have enough cold weather gear. I live right in these mountains and dressed like I had ever day leading up to the FKT and pack a shell and wind gloves just in case… I didn’t see the cold front that was coming in. (Rookie mistake) it was in the 30s both nights and I was in shorts.

At mile 3 when I was using my “just incase” cold weather gear I knew this was going to be a journey. I had a PLB and knew I had people ready with cold weather gear and hot food incase I need to switch to “Supported”. The Garmin In Reach Mini proved to be a great piece of gear for this reason.

Moving on…

Everything was flowing pretty well once the sun came up, I was actually having to slow down on climbs to sweat less.. I knew the cold weather was coming back so I was trying to stay dry…

I passed through Indian Grave Gap and saw a couple having a campfire.. night had fallen and I began to get sleepy eyes. I decided to lay down just out of the campers view. I crawled into my bivy and passed right out, but woke up 25 minutes later shivering uncontrollably. The inside of the bivy was covered with sweat. I wrapped the orange bivy around me took off down the trail like a mountain running monk or something. I warmed up fast and felt a lot better from the 25 minutes of sleep.

I passed through Dicks Creek gap around 4am and decided to take another nap at the top of the climb just passed the trail head. I crawled into my bivy again but this time didn’t pass right out. It took be about 25 minutes to warm up and fall asleep. This time I was awaken by my alarm & shivering. This time my actual clothes were sweaty and I was a little nervous. I tighten up my shell, wind gloves, and put a plastic bag over my head (trail trash). Within a few miles I was warmed up and stayed pretty “ok” as long as I was moving.

I reached the turn around nearer Bly Gap around 8:40 am. My legs felt good and the sun was up so I decided I would stop holding back on the down hills and try to negative split my return trip. I was purposefully very conservative on the way out.

When I passed back through Dicks Creek Gap, I decided to leave my poles with my cachet. I had only used the poles for a couple miles of the trip and they were super heavy (mine broke last minute, these were 300grams total!) so I just covered them with leaves and left them there.

It was a rough night, fighting  sleep and the cold. The trip from Unicoi to Hog pen gap was terrible and was absolutely a turning point for me as a human. I left part of me out there & took something else new with me. I’ll detail this a little..  When I reached Unicoi that gallon of tailwind I had there was depleted from the first trip through. I was carrying six 500ml flasks so I basically drained it on the first pass. So, I had that long stretch with just water and salt tabs. Due to not having nutrition, I had to really slow down so I did upset my stomach or get overly exhausted. I was freezing from going so slow.. Once I go to Hog Pen gap, I knew I just needed to make it the .9 miles over to Tesnatee, but I was so sleepy I was getting confused. I crawled into the bivy and layed down right inside the tree line at Hog Pen. I immediately fell asleep but woke up 10 mins later shakes uncontrollably and quite nervous. I knew I had my water proof sleeping bag, a towel, and spaghettios at Tesnatee Gap. I stood up in the bivy.. pushed my legs though the bottom, put the top over my head and climbed out of Hog Pen gap looking like a Mylar ballon. I wore this thing all the way to Tesnatee Gap, while I refilled and ate, and all the way up and out of Tesnatee Gap. This was a huge turning point for me… I didn’t think I was ever going to make it to and out of Tesnatee. It was at this point that I realized I was about to drop into Neels Gap, leaving only a 50k to the finish line at Springer Mountain.

When I got to Neels Gap, someone had taken my gallon of Skratch Super fuel.. I’m assuming a needy hiker thought it was water and used it. So, once again I was low on calories for my trip to Woody Gap where I had resupply. My plan was to get to Woody Gap and sleep for a few in the nice bathrooms there. I was walking across the parking lot at Neels Gap when I saw the porta Johns..

This looked like the Ritz. I got in.. put the bivy only around my bare legs.. and fell right to sleep. I woke up 11 minutes later.. you guessed it.. shivering uncontrollably. With my new leg holes already a fixed to the bivy.. I stood up and climbed Blood Mountain in My orange Mylar monk suit.. I was very surprised not to see anyone at the shelter. Once I got passed the technical portion of Blood Mountain, I began pushing the pace.


I was not attempting to negative split this entire trip. In order to do this I would need to reach Springer Mountain in under 56 hours. My wife was coming to meet me at the rock and she had a strict time line to get back to the house and pick the kids up from the bus stop.. this helped me push.. I ran and ran and ran. I needed to make it to Springer Mountain by 1:30pm or my wife was going to leave my food and come up with plan b while she went back home for the kids.

I reached the southern most terminus of the AT just before 1:30pm.. but there was no wife, no food, no clapping, no pictures… there was just me and the rock. I sat for a minute.. and then saw my buddy Phillip (trail name: “Murder Duck”) running toward me. He whipped a pizza out of his back pack and gave it to me. He let me know my wife was on her way and that I had actually beat them. I embraced my wife and gave murder duck a big hug. I had done it.

My original goal for the SUPPORTED plan was to go under 48 hours.

My finish time going SELF SUPPORTED was 56:41:48.