We awoke below the Jerry Cabin shelter at 7:00 this morning and most everyone else was up and packing or eating. We are almost out of fuel, so no more warm breakfasts or coffee for Tandem. We packed quickly and were on the trail by 7:45.
There was a climb straight out of camp, but it soon started to roll along at similar elevations for three miles. We were surprised by a couple of meadows on top of mountains. We passed a few memorial stones, including the Howard C. Bassett memorial and the Shelton gravesite, and took a quick snack break at the gravesite.
We reached the Flint Mountain shelter and opted to get water at the spring just past it. Bubba and 19 were there, also, getting water. We stayed behind them to the NC 212 intersection, where we all had lunch while we watched a motorcycle gang drink, smoke, and talk, until they all departed.
Bubba and 19 left first after lunch, starting what was a 1500 foot climb. We soon passed them and did a good job getting to the top. Along the way, there was a waterfall cascading from a creek, which really was beautiful, especially how green and lush it was around the water. We also passed an interesting 12-foot tall split rock formation.
Once we reached the top, we found cell signal, which we hadn’t had since before Hot Springs, so we sent our Sunday updates and daily blog postings. Tandem call Couch Control and talked about our plans and status. A couple of section hikers came by with a friendly Pug, who came over to great me while I was chilling on the ground. Bubba and 19 passed us, as did a quick northbound thru hiker.
We completed our updates and started the three mile severe downhill and uphill approaching the Hogback Ridge shelter. There were four other hikers there. We set up the tent and hammock and went for the water, which is .2 miles from the shelter. They make up for that with a privy that had a great view and a roll of toilet paper.
We had Ramen for dinner and chatted with the others around the picnic table. No one stayed in the shelter, though most shelters will be used tomorrow night due to the inclement weather approaching tomorrow afternoon. We plan to cover 20 miles if the weather allows, leaving six miles to Erwin, TN, from the No Business Knob shelter. If not, we’ll grab spots in the Bald Mountain shelter 10 miles from here, leaving 16 miles on Tuesday to Erwin.
We woke early this morning at the Hogback Ridge shelter. We packed, ate, and hit the trail by 8:00 since we had a long way to go today and the rain was coming in.
After a big climb and drop, we reached US 23/I-26 and dumped our trash. We topped out in a meadow, then dropped and climbed slowly to the top of Big Bald, going from 4100 to 5516 feet. You know you are high when there is a survey marker on top with the elevation. The top of Big Bald was uncomfortably very cloudy and windy.
We stopped for lunch in the Bald Mountain shelter, our halfway point for the day. Bubba, 19, and a couple of other hikers were there. Denali was there with the guitar that his mom had just brought him, and he played some tunes while we ate. Then the rain started.
We climbed Little Bald and then dropped 2000 feet to Spivey Gap. The road there was quiet and still no trail magic to be found. A few day hikers came down the trail southbound and stopped to talk to us. They were interested in the distance we had done and where we were going. They told us they had heard growling in the woods, causing them to turn around and come back.
The next mile was straight uphill along a cascading creek. After topping the hill, we dropped 1000 feet over three miles. We picked up seven liters of water to carry into the dry No Business Knob shelter area. We had just hiked our longest one-day distance of 20.7 miles on our 30th day! Due to the 100% chance of rain overnight, we set up in the shelter with three other hikers.
We had a chicken and rice Pasta Side for dinner. We determined that there is just enough fuel left for hot water for coffee and oatmeal tomorrow before we hike the six fairly easy miles into Erwin tomorrow morning.