Monday, February 6: Sometime in the middle of the night I woke to the sounds of drizzle. It seems a cloud decided to “park” itself over Tray Mountain; resulting in a cool and damp morning. The only item of mine that actually got wet was my food bag; suspended from one of the several steel cable, provided for just this purpose. The bag is waterproof, and everything inside was undisturbed. I fairly quickly got my things together, and was off hiking by 8:00 am.
Though the trail was damp, it wasn’t long before the clouds drifted on… I re-walked the 1.7 miles to Steeltrap Gap; stopped to take a picture (not that I expect to ever forget my mistake on the day before); continuing on toward Sassafras Gap (4.7 miles) and Addis Gap (5.6 miles). It was in Addis Gap that three young men: George Dunn, Billy Taylor and I, spent the night nearly 40 years earlier, in a small shelter on a rainy night (the shelter is no longer there). Little did we know how much our time together, early in our hiking, would later facilitate our individual efforts to complete the AT in 1972. For me, it was our friendship and collective support that sustained my own hike through much of the five months… even when we were no longer hiking together!
At 7.4 miles I arrived at the side trail (.3 miles) to Deep Gap Shelter (12:00 noon). I briefly thought about staying there…but with each mile my back was causing more discomfort. For several days, including my “slack” day, I had been sensing that my back was out of alignment. I am relatively prone to my sacrum “slipping-out”; and, if it stays out of alignment, the muscles will spasm and cause both low back discomfort and some nerve impingement. So, all I really wanted to do was get to Dicks Creek Gap!
From Deep Gap I had just another 3.6 miles to hike. This included a small gain in elevation, before dropping down from 3888 ft. to an elevation of 2675 ft. As soon as I arrived in the gap (2:00 pm), I was able to catch-a-ride from a nice man who was headed back into Hiawassee, GA. I was dropped-off at the Post Office and immediately headed-back to Daniel’s Steak House for a late lunch… The food was great, but by the time I checked-in at the Holiday Inn Express, my stomach was as upset as my back was in pain!
I rested for a while, and then began to consider my options. As I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, I went ahead and washed my dirty clothes in the bathtub, then cleaned- up myself. A quick stop to the hotel’s dryer ensured that I was all set in terms of my clothing. I also aired-out my sleeping bag as it had been very slightly damp from the night before, when I stuffed it into it’s stuff sack and tied it to my pack frame. I left the hotel and walked over to the IGA. There I purchased a ready-made sandwich and a couple of snacks. Eating the sandwich and snacks made me feel better, and shortly before 9:00 pm I was in bed asleep. 11 miles for the day; 69.6 on the AT