20 SEP 14
TN/NC Section 11
Big Bald- Spivey Gap
Miles today: 6.9
Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald
FINALLY! I got a good night’s sleep. No katydids, no weird noises or bears or other mammals looking to make a meal of me. Glancing at the thermometer, the temperature at 0630 was right around 48 degrees. Nice. I peeked out of the vent at the head of my tent; nothing but a cloud encompassing the summit. Go figure! Visibility was down so far the next blazed post could barely be seen. After what I went through yesterday, and having moved my tent, I want to see a nice sunrise over the valley below. That, and there’s no rush to get out of this sleeping bag. It’s so comfy. Nice.
There was a lot of moisture/dew on the ground. It covered everything. Not much condensed in my tent though thankfully. Reluctantly, I got up and made a cup of coffee after answering narture’s call while obscured by the clouds from the valley below. The overcast sky began to break up a bit, and a nice view of the ranges to the east was beginning to materialize. Clouds scudded along in the valley beneath me. Today was supposed to be 11.8 miles to No Business Knob Shelter. If I left at 0900, walked an average of 1.5 mph, I would arrive 2 hours before sunset. If I waited until 1100, I’d have to average 2 mph in order to get there around 5pm, and couldn’t mess around; I’d have to MOVE.
18 SEP 14
TN/NC Section 11
Hogback Ridge Shelter- Big Bald summit
Miles today: 8.9
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
– Sir Edmund Hillary
Dear diary: Today I got my ass kicked by a mountain.
The bugs that kept me awake all last night were katydids. Something in the ecosystem atop Hogback Ridge is obviously utterly out of whack, because there shouldn’t be that much of ANY species in any one spot in the world. Also, most of the night was spent slipping and sliding around in my tent and off my sleeping mat. Here’s the setup: My tent has one door, on the left. I usually sleep on my left so that’s a good fit. Unfortunately my sleeping bag is a right hand zip, so that lends to a some creative positioning during the course of the night. One short-term spur of the moment solution was to put the sleeping mat INSIDE the sleeping bag, which didn’t help much because the mat took up entirely too much space in the bag, which cramped my feet. While I was reading and trying to not think about the racket going on outside, I had that “heart” thing happen again, kind of like it skipping a beat or fluttering, except it catches my breath for a second. It’s definitely not a good feeling, and it happened twice yesterday also.
17 SEP 14
TN/NC Section 11
Devil Fork Gap- Hogback Ridge Shelter
Miles today: 6.1
“It’s an interesting combination: Having a great fear of being alone, and having a desperate need for solitude and the solitary experience. That’s always been a tug of war for me.” – Jodie Foster
For some strange reason, I kept missing the entrance to the famed Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel. I mean, I found the buildings, parked, walked around and found the bathroom, but I kept missing the actual entrance so I could catch my shuttle. Oh- it was a little walkway obscured between two towering bushes that led to a patio where a few older gentlemen were. THAT was where I needed to be.
My driver got me to Devil Fork Gap (mi 309, elev 3115′) at around 1330. It was sunny and 71 degrees- not bad at all for a hike. The forecast called for a 30% chance of rain each day until Sunday, and it had just rained two days prior, so chances were the springs would be flowing freely. For some reason however, I decided to bring an extra water bottle, my down sleeping bag, a long-sleeved shirt, and a few other things I hadn’t brought along on my last hike. Although they were small and didn’t weigh much individually, that brought my pack weight (including 3 1/2 days of food) to 27 pounds- almost 4 pounds heavier than my Hot Springs hike- and THAT wasn’t factoring in water weight. Hmm.