Another plan gone awry

March 24, 2018

Destination: Cherry Gap Shelter Today's Miles: 17.10

Start Location: Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel Trip Miles: 360.90

Winter in "Bastogne" north of Cherry Gap Shelter
I woke to my bed shaking. I was in the top bunk, and the guy below me, Joe, was getting ready early.

I went back to sleep for a bit. Finally, around 7 I woke again and decided to be awake. Joe had been hiking with Eddie Man after Obiwan finished his section hike. I asked him if he had news on Ed’s leg. Joe said that Ed had to get off the trail and would not be able to finish his hike. I felt so bad hearing this, as I know how I would feel if injury or illness cut my hike short. I also will genuinely miss running into Ed. He was a great guy and I really wanted to hear more about his life.

I had things to do before I could leave. First, I organized my bag. I checked the hiker box and there were some great food finds that I could use, so I scooped those up. One was a jiffy peanut butter single serve cup. I took that and dipped my morning pop tarts in it. Yum! After that I taped my feet and thumb back up. I am so glad I got that new skin! It really helped everything, including my blisters! Next I called the Harbour Inn and booked a room for tomorrow night. I could walk there right off the AT and resupply - super convenient! Lastly, I bought another Yoo-hoo and a few little things to top off breakfast. 

There was a lot of hesitation to hike today at the hostel. Joe pushed on and I was going to push on, but the others were waffling. It was raining and the weather was supposed to be rainy, snowy, sleety the next few days. I headed out. 

Once I got across the river and into the woods, I warmed up and the rain slackened a bit. The trail was beautiful today. I eventually climbed high enough to be back in the snow, but it never really rained hard or snowed hard. It was a good day for walking!

The weather obstructed most of the ridge and mountain views. I walked across a long meadow-like bald, but covered in snow. there was a lot of fog and mist. The fir trees reappeared, and the forest became quiet, dark, and mysteriously still. It somehow reminded me of the scenes of Bastogne in Band of Brothers. It made me think how tough it would have been to have to dig and sleep in fox holes in that bitter cold. I took a few photos and moved on to keep warm. I ran into a south bounder! His name was Shark. He started in Pennsylvania on January 1! That’s asking for some pretty crazy weather! He’s going to hike to the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, then return to PA and finish his hike to Katahdin. 

I made it to Cherry Gap Shelter just before 5. Joe was here, as well as a handful of others. I squeezed into the shelter, and before the evening was up we would squeeze in two more people. It had stopped snowing and was now sprinkling. I ate dinner - chili Mac, Reese’s cups, an oatmeal packet - got water, and hung my food bag (without incident!). I started to look at my guide book to plan getting to the Inn tomorrow, and a cold chill swept over me. I had goofed. I misread my book and the Inn wasn’t walking distance from greasy gap, it was walking distance from a road that was two days away. I quickly recovered, however, realizing that I could resupply if needed at greasy gap via another hostel, albeit less convenient as it was farther off the trail. I also might have enough food to just wait another day, and decided I would check in the morning. I need to call the Inn when I have a signal tomorrow to reschedule my reservation. I once took a trip to Maine with my wife. We got to a holiday inn express in Portland. I had made the reservation for a holiday inn express in Portland........ Oregon! I do these things sometimes. 

I was incredibly thankful that the weather wasn’t so bad today. I am grateful that I have a shelter spot and, despite the amazing chorus of snoring happening as I type, I should sleep well tonight. Hungry Cat, zzzzzzzzz.......

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