Should I stay or should I go?

Day 38 – Chestoa to Cherry Gap Shelter 17 miles

After spending 3 wonderful days with my partner, it was time to hit the trail again. I really wanted to stay in the car and head north towards home,  but I thought those thoughts would disappear once I got back into my routine of hiking.

The climb out of Erwin wasn’t too bad, a bit rocky in spots. After a few hundred feet of climbing there was snow on the rhododendron leaves and patches on the ground.

More elevation brought a deeper layer of snow to hike in, about 2 inches with even more in spots that had drifted.

Incredulously,  there was a bit of trail magic at Indian Grave Gap. A kind gentleman had hot drinks, banana bread and brownies.  It hit the spot. As I signed his book, I noticed that Nomad had  stopped here. Today! I figured that he hiked on and would be at least a day ahead of me.  Knowing that a familiar face was uphead put a pep in my step. Crossing Beauty Spot, the wind whipped. The snow made for a stark landscape – beautiful in its own way.

I caught up to Nomad within a few miles and called out, “I hope you didn’t think you were getting the shelter all to yourself”. We laughed. Indeed, there was a full shelter that night. I was surprised at the number of other hardy souls that braved the inclement weather. However, if you wait until it’s sunny and rainbows you’ll never make miles on the trail.

Day 39 – Cherry Gap Shelter to Hughes Gap Road 12.7 miles

The original plan had me going from Cherry Gap Shelter to the Clyde Smith Shelter,  around 9 miles. Nomad and I hiked about 3 miles together when he decided to call for a shuttle back into Erwin. He had tweaked his knee a few days ago and thought it best to see if he could get a brace for it and/or possibly take a few days off. We bid each farewell and I continued on.

Over the course of the next 6 miles, my mood soured. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. I was tired of hiking and tired of hauling 30+ pounds on my back. I wanted nothing more than to be home and was kicking myself for not bailing out 2 days earlier.

I got to Clyde Smith Shelter around 12:30pm. Alone. I made a cup of tea hoping the warm drink would make me feel better. The prospect of sitting here for the next 8 hours until sundown weighed on my mind. I called my partner and said, “I’m done.” With little cell service we managed to piece together a plan to extract me from my position.

Mountain Harbour B&B moved my reservation from Sunday night to tonight. Could I make it to Hughes Gap Road by 3pm? It was now 1:15pm. 3.5 miles with unknown terrain ahead. I flew down that mountain as fast as I ever hiked. Roots? Rocks? Blowdowns? There was nothing going to stop me from getting there on time. In fact, I arrived 20 minutes early.

The shuttle came and scooped me up, made a stop at Carver Gap and picked up another 2 hikers then onward towards warmth and the thought of heading home after 39 days and 374.4 miles on the Appalachian Trail.

Drifting, Falling – The Ocean Blue
“You may find you’re all alone
All around you not a sound
Drifting, falling on your own again
The walls of cold and grey surround
They surround”

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Delphinium : Apr 8th

    I think that telling the truth about what something is ,is very important.than to leave someone behind with fabricated information.if looks like fake article then it is.before you can say anything about what it is be the truth on how it one wants to keep believing in lies that lay only a fairytale.


What Do You Think?