Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shelter Zero

I twisted my ankle my first day out, and I wanted to give it a rest. I had climbed out of the NOC, and camped at Sassafras Gap Shelter. The forecast was for rain all that next day, with dangerous thunder storms starting in the early evening, and continuing thruout the night. As much as I hate the shelters, I didn't want to be in a tent for that. I decided to take that zero at Sassafras Gap.

And so, I spent my day off cleaning up the shelter area, tweaking my gear, and consuming the contents of my food bag.

Hikers started coming in. Mad Tom and Pam, a couple my age, spent most of the afternoon deciding whether to hike on or stay. Eventually, the were comfortably ensconced in the shelter. Acorn, a young lady I knew from the 2013 AT hikers forum on Facebook, showed up. Pinoit Airman, a retired Air Force hiker from the Philippines came in along with Jeff, Clutch, Chris, and BG (Belgium Guy). The shelter was filling up, but thankfully it wasn't the young party crowd of the night before.

Grumbling about the weather guessers became a consistent topic of discussion. It didn't rain all day, and the storm didn't start till late into the evening. It wasn't as intense as predicted, but I was glad I wasn't in a tent...

I got out early the next morning. I had a reservation at Hiker's Inn, and I had to be at Fontana Dam by 3:00 on the day after next. So I was gonna push a 12 mile day and camp at Cody Gap. That'd put me within a fairly easy 8 miles of Fontana Dam.

It was foggy at the top of Cheoah Bald, and it made for some great shots of Chris and Clutch. From there, a long step descent into Stecoah Gap, a brutal climb up Jacob's Ladder, and a nice long hike along a ridge line got me to Cody gap. BG was setting up as I got there. I droped down towards the water source, found a flat spot, and set up camp.

The next morning I got on the trail as Jeff (now "The Saint") was passing by. We ended up running into each other most of the day. Had lunch with him and NG at Cable Gap Shelter which was built by the CCC in the 30's. A long, easy afternoon descent got me into Fontana Dam with time to spare.

The folks from Hikers Inn picked me up, got me into a room, took my dirty clothes to launder 'em. I got a shower, put my batteries on charge and then they shuttled Newton and I into town for resupply and dinner.

Great people and great service.

Tomorrow I head into the Smokies.