Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 10: oh what a day

4/30: mile 131.8 - Stecoah Gap
Miles: 131.8 - 150.8 (19.7 miles)

You know those days you just love? Today was one of those awesome days. The rain never came and we wake up to a beautiful sunrise. It's going to be a long descent this morning but at the bottom of our 3000 ft descent is the Natahala Outdoor Center which means breakfast and who knows what else.

A few views

See that glint of water? That's how low we're going

A great part of going down to 1700 ft? So much more green

Stealthy hider

There he is. The benefits of staring at my feet all morning

We make it to the NOC and enjoy a great breakfast with a few hikers

My new favorite hikerbox, matzoh, tanning oil and a urinal of course

A few minutes earlier I think there were 10 packs here, quite the hiker hangout

I'd heard this spot was popular with rafters abs tourists, now I know why

The beauty of dropping 3000 ft is we have to climb back on up right after. But it's a great climb. Everything has been pretty well graded but this is the longest climb with maybe 3500 ft of continuos elevation gain. I'm having a great time, pouring sweat in the humidity but just steadily climbing.

I startle another hiker but as he stumbles I get to see this pretty guy (girl?), my first snake of the trail

Near the top we spend awhile at a shelter. Meeting folks, enjoying cold water and debating oncoming weather and how far to go.

Up on top of Cheoah bald it's a pretty view, but it's starting to sprinkle and with forecasts of thunder and lightning I'm surprised people are already setting up shelters up on this exposed patch.

It rains a bit as we head down, nothing awful but the thunder rumbles and the tree cover shields me so much I don't even consider grabbing my umbrella.

We get to Stecoah Gap and happily take a break with two guys we've been seeing regularly for the last few days. They decide to head on but we're trying to meet up with a CDT friend and hitch down to Robinsinville. As we drive down it starts to pour and I'm happy we got our ride when we did. It's green luscious farm country down here and the town is small enough that everything we need is within a few blocks. My favorite kind of town. Our plans falls through and we debate a quick resupply versus dismissing the night. But it's raining and we're tired. Besides we are already in town. A hotel room is great but even more fun is the people watching. It takes a minute but after the third or fourth group of glittering teens in suits and dresses giggling and taking selfies I realize it's prom. Oh what a difference a few hours make. This morning I was a grubby damp hiker feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere and now I'm sitting drinking coffee staring at a girl in a glittering tangerine dressing, I love thruhiking.

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