AT04 Unicoi Gap to Bly Gap – A Visitor in the Night

March 10th – 11.4 miles

After a delicious and filling birthday breakfast at the diner, Sparkles drops me of at Unicoi Gap to resume my thru hike.
It has been awesome to have friends around to start this journey, but now it is time to hike on my own.

The sun is shining but the temperature is low. There are icicles and patches of ice on the trail.

The trail is smooth though, and I’m cruising until Sassafras Gap where I plan to camp.
There are a few other hikers already there , so I won’t be alone that night.

After my first bear bag hanging of my trip, I go to bed early to hunker from the cold wind.

March 11th – 15.3 miles

I felt the cold during the night. I need to set my quilt better to avoid the drafts around my hips and neck in the future.
It is clear that the temperature was very low last night. My water bottle is half frozen. It was a good idea to sleep with my filter.
I struggle to get my stove going, and I am not the only one in this situation.
The water is not quite boiling, but it is just warm enough for oatmeal and a warmish coffee.

I start walking with all my layers on. But luckily the sun comes out and its rays warm me up soon. The clear sky offers a beautiful view at Kelly Knob.

On the way I meet a few hikers. One is a college student spending a couple of days on the trail. We chat a couple of minutes. She plans to stay at Bly Gap, just as I do. We’ll see eachother again that night then. Little did I know how “close” we’ll become later…
I cross the state line between GA and North Carolina and set camp at Bly Gap.

It feels strange to be there again, at the exact same spot than where I was 4 years ago with my tramily… I think of them as I cross this milestone.

There, I meet Rearview and Timberwolf for the first time. We have a little chat and Rearview offers me a Snickers bar as a birthday cake substitute.

The college student I met earlier arrives and she set her hammock up. Me, I’m already getting ready to go to bed.
I hang my bear bag and I put my thermals and fleece on to make sure I’ll sleep through the night. It’s supposed to be in the low 30⁰. I crawl in my quilt and fall asleep soon.

But ! Something unexpected happened!

“Pixie ! Pixie !”
It’s 10pm, and I barely know the people around me. What’s going on ?!
Outside my tent, wrapped in her sleeping bag, I find the college girl. She’s been shivering for the last couple of hours. She can’t sleep and feels very cold.
“You are the only female around here, so I come to you. I don’t know what to do.”
We’ll, me neither… I try to explain to her that I’ve got a 1 person tent, barely wide enough for myself, so I can’t really offer to share my tent and body warmth with her.
I offer my puffy or extra layer I’ve got, but she tells me she is already wearing hers.
Well, I don’t want her to freeze, so I suggest she tries to get in somehow…
It is a very tight squeeze indeed !
I shuffle down a bit to do not knock off my trekking pole holding my tent, and she gets in. I’ve got my face squished between my trekking pole and her back, she has got her legs sticking out of the tent, in the vestibule. It is definitely not the most comfortable night of my existence, but at least she warms up and we both manage to get a little bit of sleep.
I’ve never slept so close to a stranger before !

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 3

  • JadedFan : Apr 7th

    Trail Angel’s are real.

  • Dottie “.com” Rust : Apr 7th

    You may have saved her life. . .hypothermia is very real & can be fatal. You have a good heart to allow this hiker into your tiny space.

  • Jeff Greene : Apr 7th

    Hammocks and cots will freeze you to death if you don’t have a thermal layer under you! My son nearly went hypothermic in a cot one night where I didn’t have a thermal pad beneath him. I thought I was doing him a favor by having him in a cot instead of sharing an inflatable mattress on the tent floor with his sister, but I subsequently learned how cold it can get! Good on ya for helping!


What Do You Think?