It was freezing outside our warm cabin, but I braved the weather for a second hot shower before hitting the trail again. When I returned to the cabin, Tandem was still sleeping but woke up to chat about our plans and to start our second VHS feature video. This time it was Terminal, another Tom Hanks movie.
While we watched, I wrote my blog for the day before and we shared a half dozen Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts from Walmart. We also finished the extra Sugar Smacks cereal that didn’t fit in our ziplock bags. To top it off, we each had a yogurt purchased during our Walmart shopping run. The yogurt and cheeses had spent to night outside of the cabin in the cold.
Tandem packed while I researched and arranged for the shipping of the replacement waist belt. Just before checkout at 11:00, we were paid a visit from Lobstah, who was staying another night at the hostel and working turning over cabins in exchange for the lodging.
We left the cabin and gave to key to Lobstah so she could get a head start on cleaning. We grouped out in front of the hostel to check our packs and buy fuel. Tandem talked to her grandmother while I chatted with Dad and Sweet Meat about Dad’s having to leave the trail for a month to let his ankle recover. He is one of the AT “sponsored” hikers, so this is a setback. He plans to do trail magic and provide shuttles along the AT in PA while he recovers. We aren’t sure that Sweet Meat will make it on his own completing a sponsored thru hike without Dad.
Just as we were about to head for the trail, Sarge came out of the Hostel office to announce the departure of free shuttle to the Pizza Plus for the AYCE pizza and salad bar. Tandem and I decided that we would be better off eating a huge lunch before hitting the trail. We stashed our packs and jumped in the van with Lobstah and Tennessee. Another thru hiker who had just arrived from the trail was offered a ride but opted to hike with his pack to the restaurant. We all thought him nuts. In fact, after we arrived, so did he, and he had ultimately hitched a ride.
We all ate our fill for an hour and greeted I Believe when she arrived for her lunch, which really surprised her. After lunch, we had Lobstah call the hostel, which got us picked up an hour early since she had to work there and we wanted to get hiking.
Once we got back, we said our goodbyes and left at 13:30 for a 12.7 mile afternoon of hiking in the bright sun and 50 degree temps. We climbed slowly along a cascading creek away from the Nolichucky River and then turned uphill along winding switchbacks.
We made good time and stripped a layer half way up the first mountain. Where we stopped had a log that had the AT symbol chain-sawed into the end if it by a trail maintenance crew. I would have missed it if we hadn’t stopped there, since the end was facing north. At 15:15, after hiking five miles, we paused for a snack and to sign the logbook at the Curly Maple Gap shelter.
We arrived at Beauty Spot Gap at 18:00 after crossing a windy meadow with a great view of the mountains all around. We dropped into the campsite nearby that is right on the TN/NC state line along the Beauty Spot Gap Road. While we set up our sleeping quarters several vehicles drove by, waving to us. We were in the campsite with Max and two other thru hikers each older than seventy.
The winds were howling in the trees above us and the sun was shining across the tree tops as it set and we had our pasta dinner. We could feel the temps dropping. It is expected to be below freezing tonight. We ate, cleaned up, hung our own bear bag rope, and dove into my tent for a few relatively warm games of Rummy, since I’m now carrying a deck of cards.
Once the sun had set, we used my Luci light – a ‘happy hike’ gift from a friend — hung from the tent roof to complete our games. It was a fun, but frigid, evening. Tandem went off to her hammock and I bundled up to write this blog. I lost my gloves a few days ago, so I hope it warms up soon! It doesn’t look like rain again until next Tuesday. Maybe we can make it the 112 miles to Damascus, VA by then. Waiting for us should be my much needed new pack belt from the Cary, NC, REI and a care package from home with the second quarter of our A.T. Guide (segmented to save weight).