Thursday, April 7, 2011

March 30

Luckily it wasn't raining this morning when daylight arrived. Myself and all my gear were a little damp from the condensation/possible leak problem but none the worse for wear. The bigger issue was that everything was DIRTY. I mean, I know I'm "living in the woods" but when all the forest debris and whatnot gets wet it sticks to everything. There was mud plastered all over my trekking poles and the side of my tent from the storm. My tent groundsheet was covered in water, leaves, and mud and of course the tent itself was sopping wet. And what is there to do but just roll it all up and stuff it in the pack? So we descended the one mile down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center where Pappy, Shepherd, AJ, Phil, Muffin Man, and I had breakfast...delicious after a rough night. We hung around for awhile, resupplied at a gas station down the road, and headed back to the trail at about 1:00. The climb began. This climb out of the NOC was the longest sustained climb we'd had: approximately 3000 feet of elevation gain over 6.5 miles. It wasn't as horrible as I expected (maybe I was in Grand Canyon mode?)...but the terrain was a bit tricky from the rain...lots of rocks, roots, and downed trees to climb over. Muffin Man, Phil, and I made our way through the incredibly humid and dense fogginess and finally arrived at Sassafras Gap Shelter. It's a full house tonight; the shelter sleeps 14 across two levels and someone is sleeping on the "patio" and another in a hammock underneath the overhang. It's raining now so I am glad to be inside!..hopefully it will stop by morning. Tomorrow will be a big day, 15.2 miles, but the terrain seems relatively easy. Then Friday will be a short day to Fontana Dam where we will enter the Smokies!
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