Days 6 – 9

Day 6 – Unicoi Gap to Deep Gap Shelter 13.4 miles

Today was the first nice day on the trail. It was magical seeing the sun. I had a tough climb up and over Tray Mountain. The shelter made a nice stopping point for lunch and to sit and take a load off my feet. I ran into a nice young man there whose name I’ve now forgotten, and we chatted.

After resting, it was back on the trail up and over Kelly’s Knob and into Deep Gap Shelter. The weather was nice enough to set up my tent for the night.

Day 7 – Deep Gap Shelter to Bly Gap 12.9 miles

I actually hung around long enough in the morning to make a hot granola meal and a “mocha” – freeze dried coffee with a hot cocoa packet. I chatted with a few other hikers there before hitting the trail.

First trail magic at Dick's Creek gap

Originally, I was only going to hike the eight miles or so until Plum Orchard Shelter, but word of impending nasty weather had me rethinking my plan. I hit that Shelter around 2:00 p.m. and it was just too early to stop. As the saying goes, “Make hay while the sun is shining.” Off I continued.

Most of the time I am hiking alone. I have no “tramily” that I’ve fallen in with. I get up early in the morning and am ready to push out as soon as the sun rises. I’ve met plenty of other hikers this way and today on my way to Bly Gap I ran into Hussain.  I met him that atrocious rainy day at Low Gap Shelter and again when I stayed at the Green Dragon hostel.  It was nice seeing a familiar face. We hiked a few miles to the GA/NC border sign and made camp at the Gap for the night.

Day 8 – Bly Gap to Carter Gap Shelter 15.3 miles

I was packed and ready to go by 5:30 a.m. I sat in my tent until first light and by 7:00 a.m. I hit the trail. Hussain was still sleeping. I haven’t seen him since.

The climb out of Bly Gap was a bitch. No joke. I’m glad I didn’t do this yesterday.  I had a fleeting moment of pushing on to Muskrat Ridge Shelter instead of camping at Bly. Yikes.

I hit Standing Indian Shelter by 12:30 p.m. I took a break and ate a snack. I had a bar of service and checked the weather. Rain was definitely coming. When was another question. Should I stay here with the knowledge that it least I’ll get shelter space or push on? I checked the logbook – only two hikers stayed here last night. I hadn’t seen any other NOBO’s all day. Ok, I think I can make it to Carter Shelter before the rain hits and have a roof over my head.

For the most part the rain held off. About four miles from camp, it started to drizzle. On with the raincoat, pants, and pack cover. I made it to the shelter and…. it was full. Where did these folks come from? I hadn’t seen a soul all day.

I settled on the dirt floor but was happy to have a roof over my head. At some point during the night the heavens opened up and it poured. Spray came in from both sides and got my head and feet wet. In the morning, I could see the dirt caked on my sleeping bag. Oh well. At least I didn’t have a sopping wet tent to take down.

Day 9 – Carter Gap Shelter to Rock Gap 12.3 miles

20th Century Dreaming – David Sylvian
“Cold morning
Start of another day
Sleeping through the epilogue
Waking to the sound of rain”

Rain. What a surprise. I packed up my damp bag and geared up for a nasty day. Snow Bear and I left camp to conquer Albert Mountain and the first 100 miles. The terrain wasn’t bad until the foot of the mountain.  Then it was up, up, up. It was a relief to hit the top. Unfortunately, we didn’t get views. The trek down was extremely cruisy and we made good time. Near the Long Branch Shelter turn off we stopped for a rest. I pulled my phone out and had a single bar of service. As I already had reservations for Chica and Sunsets the next night, what were the chances they had a room tonight? I’m wet, my bag is wet and staying inside sounded like a better decision.  Score! They had space. Someone is looking over me.

A change of plans yet again and got picked up at Rock Gap. A hot shower, laundry and a good night’s sleep.

The only thing constant about the trail is a change of plans.

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