AT Day 5 – Hanging At Dick’s Creek

Steeltrap Gap to Plumorchard Gap
Call Home Camp to Rainforest Camp
AT miles: 14.5
Total miles: 81.9
Elevation change: 4252ft gain, 4833ft loss

Squeeeeeeeee. Squeeeeeeeee.
What the heck is that?

I was already awake and dozing when the squeeeeeeeee bird started doing its thing. Then there was another one. The drawn out squelching noises didn’t wake me up, but they sure kept me up. That was perfectly fine, however. I had just spent the last 12 hours in bed after all. Maybe it was time to try something else.

The sun was up and glowing by the time I squirmed out of bed. There were some clouds about, but the morning was already much warmer than the previous night. When I started hiking, I didn’t even consider keeping my puffy on.

Oh yeah, look at that blue sky.

I had the morning all to myself. Not another soul in sight or earshot. My knee and shin discomfort were both down from the previous day, an encouraging sign, and I kept my stride light and easy to reduce impact. This slowed me down a little, but I only needed to make 10 miles by three p.m. No rush here.

After some long traverses and gentle climbs, I actually stripped down to just my shirt for the first time on the AT so far. I felt exposed, yet fresh, even if I didn’t smell it. It was like that that I met the AT Trail Ambassador coming up the trail. He didn’t seem too impressed by my plan to hike 70 miles between resupplies to NOC, but he was friendly about it and dished out some good info on the Smokies. We both turned and stared when someone hiked by with a goat on a leash.

Check out this funky log. Pretty cool.

I showed up at Dick’s Creek Gap a little after noon and way ahead of schedule. That was fine by me. I like a long lunch. However, when I saw through the mountain laurel that someone had set up a trail magic extravaganza, I backtracked a little to a peaceful campsite that I had passed. I had a few hours to kill and wanted some of that time to myself. I stretched and gorged on all of my leftover food.

Then around two p.m., sweaty with either the caffeine sweats or nervous introvert sweats, maybe both, I hiked in my Crocs to the gap. The party was just packing up when I arrived. A group of four hikers was helping to disassemble tables and tossing their packs in a van, headed for the nearby hostel. I made light acquaintance, eagerly grabbing a banana, apple, and tangerine before they disappeared. So in just a few minutes, I was left alone again, to ponder the source of my hesitancy to mingle. Sorry, no revelations came of it.

A big-time resupply at Dick’s Creek Gap. Three burritos left.

Crunchberry’s wife, Carla, showed up right on time, bringing with her my resupply and some extra goodies. To my amazement, out came a paper bag weighed down with five(!) vegan burritos from Taco Bell, all for me. Sure, I was already full, but not too full for burritos. I ate two immediately. The rest wouldn’t last long. I was also surprised by a fresh pallet of Oreos to replenish my gallon Ziploc of crumbs and cream stains. SpiceRack’s doing, I guessed. However, perhaps the greatest treat of all was a chance to meet baby Crunch, five-month-old Felton. Looks just like his dad and could probably hike as fast.

The visit from Carla was actually a huge mental boost, one that I needed when I hefted my now fully-loaded pack. The new food would hopefully get me 70 miles to NOC, but with the extra burritos and leftovers, I have a suspicion that I’ll make it all the way to Fontana in 100 miles. Only one way to find out. After bidding farewell to Carla and Felton, I lumbered up the trail, which of course climbed all the way to camp.

Lumbering on.

Light rain began to dampen then leaves on the ground. It was warm so I didn’t bother layering up, but I did think hard about checking out the shelter at Plumorchard Gap, against my instincts to tent as much as possible. Instead, I did pitch my tent among the green rhododendron and swirling mist. The warm, close dampness reminded me of the jungle. I managed to squeeze in one more burrito before calling it a night, loud smacking tree drops all-around sounding like footsteps or bear snufflings.

This post was originally published on my blog Check it out for trip reports from my other hikes including the CDT and Sierra High Route.

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Comments 6

  • Al Kinsella : Feb 28th

    Love your writing, you’re a natural…

    • Owen Eigenbrot : Mar 6th

      Thanks, I really appreciate your kind words.

  • thetentman : Feb 28th

    I hope you had happy Burrito dreams.


  • Sawnie Robertson : Feb 28th

    How can I see the knee surgeon tomorrow to arrange for a complete knee replacement when I only want to be able to wander along the AT every day for the remainder my life? Your very real photographs of the leaf covered walkway says it all to me. I just love BEING when I am there. The troll demands prepayment. The surgeon listens as I tell him the why and the goal of my submission to the OR. He knows. An excellent result will follow. In the meantime, please share more photos of what awaits us as we wait for 2023, 2024, 2025 …. Thanks!

    • pearwood : Feb 28th

      After ten hours on the operating table to get an infected disk cleaned out in August 2019, I had my wife tape an AT map to the wall in the hospital room (eight days!) to let the assorted medical folks and physical therapists know what I was planning. At my two year followup last summer the surgeon said I was good to go.
      Restarting in a week. My brother with the replaced hip is walking with me the first week or so.
      You will do this.
      Blessings on your way,
      Steve / pearwood

    • Owen Eigenbrot : Mar 6th

      Best of luck with your operation and recovery. My mom went through a knee replacement. It was a long process to get back into the mountains, but she would say it was worth it. I know you will too.


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