Sorry for leaving it so long between posts, internet can be thin on the ground here.
So, you left me, in Gattlinberg, running for the hills. And that's how it went, I caught a shuttle to Newfound Gap, got there at 3:30, 4 hours of daylight and 10 miles to my preferred shelter. (There was a shelter three miles in, but that's a little over an hour and you'd barely be warmed up.)
Those ten miles are among the prettiest on the trail to date, narrow ridges with the ground falling away steeply on both sides leaving you with views out both sides stretching for over a hundred miles and a slight case of vertigo.
I reached the shelter shortly before dark, it was full but I found somewhere to pitch my tent easily enough and was done with food and camp setup just as light failed.
The following day I decided to push it a little to get to a hostel I thought was at Davenport gap, turns out I was wrong, it was about another two miles, pushing it from a 21 to a 23 mile day. Those last miles hurt.
The hostel was good fun a little more hippy than my taste runs, but indoor food and a bed can't be wrong. From there, great views, a shelter, tent. Great sunset that my photo again fails to do justice. 'Red Sky at Night' lead me astray, in the morning the wind changed and it started pissing rain. I had a fairly short run into town.
Hot Springs is one of two towns that the A.T. runs straight through, no hitching no pickup, just straight to a saloon, rent a room above the bar, and wash the dirt off my back. Today the western feel was completed by my tendency to walk like John Wayne, chafing is the scourge of the trail!
As it had been a while since my zero-mile day at the NOC I decided to hang out in town for a day. That night we found Karaoke, a pool table, and a jukebox, it's not quite all you need for civilization, but it's close!
As a bunch of my friends from the trail were about to get to town I decided to try a thing called a slack-packing.
A Slack-Pack is where you arrange to get a ride somewhere up the trail, and then hike back to town. This allows you hike without most of your pack. The difference between a 5lb and a 25lb pack is hard to fathom, running becomes an option when you're not carrying your house on you back.
That day we slacked 16 miles back to town. Between the slackers, the people who zeroed, and the people who arrived that day we had a big group for dinner. I find my hiking is enhanced greatly by wine, company and steak.
This post is expanding beyond all reasonable scope so I'll speed it up.
From Hot Springs, four days, including the slack to Uncle Johnny's hostel where I arrived last night. Today I did another 21 mile slack, and god does it hurt. Testosterone poisoning, pure and simple, hammering along trying to keep up with fitter guys lead to a limping finish. No damage done, but I may hurt in the morning.
Total mileage : 360.
Still fun. :)
My next planned internet is Damascus, May 1 or 2.
Thanks for listening, sorry this isn't as polished as usual, too much to say too little internet!
Newfound Gap to Pecks Corner Shelter. 10.4
To Waterville School Road, Bear farm hostel. 23.3
To Walnut Mountain Shelter, 20.3.
To Hot Springs, 13.
To Log Cabin Drive, 16.
To Flint Mountain Shelter, 16.
To Bald Mountain Campsite, 19.3
To Nolichucky River (Uncle Johnny's Hostel), 16.5
To Iron Mountain Gap, 20.1.