Day 23 – New Stairs Just For Me?!

Day 23

Start: Locust Cove Gap

End: Cable Gap Shelter

Miles Hiked: 11.8

Miles on AT: 159.4


Last night was a little rough because my tent site was crooked, making my sleep pad slide to the bottom of the tent and leaving me feeling as though I would slide right off it. My poor sleep caused me to get up relatively early (around 7:30 am) to start getting ready for the day.

After breakfast, I set off around 8:45. The sky was cloudy and the air had a chill in it, but it was perfect hiking weather. Passing into Stecoah Gap, lush wildflowers coated the hillsides in all directions. Since when had the underbrush gotten so thick and colorful? I felt blessed to be walking through this section at this time of year, able to experience the joys and gifts of spring.

At Stecoah, highway construction meant a trail detour along a path down the highway. Luckily it was nicely graveled. I was greeted on the other side of the highway by a set of freshly built stairs installed in the hillside.

Once at the top of the hill, I took a morning break to fuel myself for the challenge ahead – Jacob’s Ladder. Roughly 650 feet of elevation gain in a half mile sounded like no joke and I wanted to be ready for it. 

At first, the climb wasn’t terrible; those first NC ascents had been exponentially harder. But then I got closer to the top; it was so steep! Almost like climbing the last bit of Albert Mountain, but not quite. Each step brought me closer to the top, and soon I was rewarded with a pleasant set of switchbacks to carry me to the top.

I had a proper 45 minute lunch at the next shelter – mercifully, water was only a short jaunt from the shelter – and enjoyed my time sitting and eating despite the cold coming to join me.

The rest of the day was shaping up to be a smooth ride to my target shelter. Soon, the sun started to show and the temperatures warmed up. Now that the clouds had dissipated a bit, I could actually see the landscape around me.

The rest of the trail was mostly downhill. When I arrived at Cable Gap Shelter, the same crew from last night was there to greet me, including the fire! Again, I arrived at camp around 4:00 pm, so I spent it like I had the night before.

There were four other guys at the shelter who were section hiking. They had been hiking the AT section by section over 20 years and had about 3 weeks of section left. This was the last part of the southern AT they had to complete.

Later on, a good number of thru hikers showed up. I entertained myself with conversation and keeping the fire alive until sundown.


And that’s day 23.


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