Me: 1, Smokies: 0
Made it down to Davenport Gap at a run and pushed onto the tiny 6-house village. Ate a burger and some ice cream at “Mountain Mama’s Kuntry Kitchen” (sic). Very odd little backwater place. I filled up the whole fuel bottle for $1 and got some groceries to get me to Hot Springs.
It’s amazing down here in the gap – 65 degrees and sunny, dry, and hello, even mosquitoes! A welcome change from the 20-40 degree, frozen boot, wet sock, slushy trail Smokies. And I made it by 1pm. It was almost all a super fast, easy downhill. Crispina and Marco Polo are here, followed by Jurnee and Flusher. Marco Polo offered me $10 so I could stay here in the bunkhouse with them, but I turned him down – its so nice, and dry, and I want to make miles.
Got a hitch, miraculously, and hiked about another 3/4 mile to a nice little spot along a cascading brook. Quiet, peaceful, and ALONE for the first time in a while. No more snoring and farting. This, and the night I camped outside Neels Gap, are the only 2 nights I’ve slept alone so far.
So alone, that I did laundry, hung it up, then got naked and splashed around in the stream. Fresh clothes, cleaned up my feet/toenails/blisters (digging the crap out of them after 5 days of wet wool socks), gathered some wood for a fire. SOOOO relaxed right now.
Going to repack the food back, I think, then have a LONG drink, then maybe get this fire going. Not sure about dinner, still pretty bloated from that giant burger and fries. Thirsty though, but I think that’s normal, end-of-the-day dehydration. I skimped big on food and water this morning, trying to make the 15 mile dash down here.
And I just pounded almost a whole nalgene, so yeah, thirsty.
Had to drip some fuel on my TP to get it to light, since my lighter is just a ‘sparker’ now. Got a nice little fire going, boots finishing drying, everything on me is dry for the first time in a while.
Definitely staying light longer, it’s 6:18pm and the sky is still quite bright.
Wish I had marshmallows.
Wow, I am not cold anywhere on my body, for the first time since Fontana Dam.
A lot of NC is really beautiful, easy trail. Long ridges cut by little valleys with streams. It must be from the tectonics that made the Appalachians – most of the rock here is shale, with a little conglomerate (old stream runoff?). The tops of the ridges are the only place its exposed, and the layers are all basically vertical. Right now I’m camped in one of the little valleys.
I think it’s the “state line branch” of the Pigeon River. The sound of the stream is nice and relaxing, and I’m surrounded by rhododendron and beech. The stream is nice because right over the ridge is I-40, but the valley cuts out almost all of the noise, and the stream takes care of the rest.
Since that section hiker kept me up last night with his snoring (why do snorers fall asleep first?) I’m going to crash out early. Amazing, I’m laying here in a tshirt and shorts, a bit chilly, while last night it was below freezing and I was shivering cold in my dinky bag. What a difference 4500′ makes. No trail maps for here to Hot Springs, but you really can’t get lost.
I might bootleg on Max Patch tomorrow. Roaring Fork is 19.8 and the summit is only 14.7. We’ll see how it goes and how the terrain is. Maildrop in Hot Springs for Friday.
Note: Mountain Mamas closed in 2007.