Friday, February 3: I left Low Gap shelter at 9:00 a.m. Not feeling as well as I’d wished, I nonetheless maintained a steady pace, arriving at Blue Mountain shelter about 1:00 p.m. (7.3 miles). After a half-hour break, I departed for Unicoi Gap, another 2.4 miles. This last piece included a small climb (.9 miles) with the balance downhill. However between my stomach upset and the sometimes slippery nature of the trail; I was happy to see the road below. Shortly before I reached the gap I caught a glimpse of a man (Bill) headed the same way.
In the gap I had an opportunity to meet Bill, a gentleman in his 70s. We chatted long enough for me to determine that “Roots” had completed the Appalachian Trail, over a period of two years in 2009! As he was headed home to Hiawassee, GA, I was grateful that he was willing to bring me into town as well. Though I had plenty of food, I needed to figure-out what was wrong with my cell phone (no service since Blood Mountain), pick-up some more fuel, and get-over what was seeming more-and-more like a bout of stomach flue… Though we first checked a well-known “hiker motel” it was still closed (between seasons). Therefore, the next best place to stay (value and price) was the Holiday Inn Express.
Before Bill would let me go, he gave me his telephone number, in the event I needed a ride back to the gap. For thru-hikers, Bill is what we affectionately call: a “trail angel.” He’ll tell you that he’s just “giving back” to other hikers, what people did for him when he was on the trail. However, his value to the hiker community is much more than that; as he is a genuine and caring individual!
Once I was checked-in to the hotel, I immediately began to organize my time between taking a shower, sorting out my dirty clothes, and whittling away at the weight of my pack. The shower was wonderful and because I always try to maintain one set of clean/dry clothes, I was able to be clean and also look clean! Then it was off to the in-house laundry where I washed the dirty clothes, and worked on my hiking notes. Once back in the room I created a small “pile” of items I would mail home on Saturday.
After checking at the hotel’s front desk, I proceeded to Daniel’s Steak House (their recommendation) for some dinner. Daniel’s has a full-service menu, plus a buffet (dinner, salad, or both). I chose the salad bar, as my “system” was due for some vegetables and greens! The choice was a good one, as my stomach seemed to settle-down. However, my back was becoming more of a problem… Fortunately, I slept fine. 9.7 miles for the day; 52.9 miles on the AT.