Day 17 – New Gear, Who Dis?

Idle feet are the devils work. I spent the majority of the morning waiting on my replacement rain gear (Frogg Toggs) to be delivered at the NOC. Yesterday while waiting I changed my footwear to Altra Lone Peak 7s. I’ve been researching lighter weight tents for the better part of a week now. And today while waiting, I popped for another upgrade.

While I enjoy the Featherstone tent I have, it’s simply too heavy and I decided to switch to the Nemo Hornet 2P. Tom “Late start” and a few others have it and they are happy with it. It’s going to shave close to 3 lbs off my pack weight which is huge and was definitely noticeable climbing out of the Nantahala gorge today. While I’m happy with the purchases, I’ve definitely spent more here than all my previous stops on the AT combined. Hoping to be done spending money on gear for the next month at least.

USPS delivered one package to the NOC today and it wasn’t mine. The staff said “We have this one package but you don’t look like a Darlene.” My rain gear was sent to a different building at the NOC. The nice folks working the desk drove out there to retrieve it for me. After sending my old tent and rain jacket home (6.5lbs including the box), I was ready to roll out.

I left the NOC at noon and started up the hill out of the gorge. After yesterdays zero, I had Willie Nelson’s, “On the road again”, playing on repeat in my head. I’m hoping to make Fontana Dam in 2 days (28 miles) but camp spots are oddly spaced making the logistics more difficult. Also leaving at noon puts me behind the curve.

The views from Cheoah Bald (the peak for today) were spectacular. I would have loved to stay longer but time was already strained. I made good time considering and arrived at Locus Cove Gap just after 6pm. A little over 11 miles and 4000ft in climbing for the day. I’m proud of the time and distance considering my start time today but it sets up a conundrum for tomorrow.

There are 2 shelters I’m considering staying at for tomorrow. Cable Gap Shelter would be an easy 12 miles, very doable. I’d prefer to end at Fontana Dam shelter which is a little over 18 miles and would be my longest day so far. That also has the caveat of lots of downhill (which if we recall correctly, I hate downhills). Also I’ll need to spend some of the time tomorrow getting a food resupply for the Smokies, which I’ll enter in 2 days if all goes according to plan.

Random thought of the day: I used to think trekking poles made you look old, but if trekking poles make you look old, then I don’t want to be young. This trail would be significantly harder without them.

I’m going to try to get up early and get after it tomorrow.

Until then, Stow away in my pack for Day 18 on the Appalachian Trail.

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