Carey Kish is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a distance of 2,200 miles over a period of 5-6 months. Entries from Carey’s trail journal are presented here. You can also follow his journey on Facebook.
April 4, 2015: Locust Cove Gap to Cable Gap Shelter, 11.6 miles, 9:45am to 4:15pm.
A roller coaster of high ridge walking at the 3000 to 4000-foot level this morning. Crisp and clear, temps rose into the 50s maybe, if that. Enjoyed the cool and the sun, although I was admittedly chilly at times in just a T-shirt.
Great walking on the contours was mixed with short but steep ascents straight up to a knob, then straighten down the other side of course. Long steep descent late morning brought me to Stecoah Gap. There a couple of Class of 2014 thru-hikers (sorry, too often bad with remembering names) had a big spread of glazed donuts and coffee, plus fruit and bags of trail snacks. Couldn’t resist a cup of Joe and a glazed. We chatted up for a while in the bright sun, warm spot.
The climb out of the gap was a grind, up and up and up, most of it steeply. Jeez, the Stecoahs are taking their toll. But then, that’s their reputation. Often throughout the day and especially at gaps I’d spy where the old AT of 38 years ago and more would run straight up and down the ridges. There’s a lot more contouring and switch backing now, thank goodness, but this stretch between Franklin and Fontana is still tough.
Nevertheless, the walking is still fine and the springtime views through the trees are outstanding. I drifted along through much of the morning and into early afternoon completely happy to just put one foot in front of the other and think whatever thoughts came to mind, which sometimes wasn’t much. It felt great to be so free, even if somewhat artificially so. At one point, pretty sure it was Thursday, I looked at my watch f the first time in days and saw that it was actually Saturday. Now that’s the trail taking hold for sure. I like it. I don’t really want to care what time or day it is for the most part. I just want to walk and look at stuff and ponder whatever. Trail time.
Lunched on a high knob in the sun and out of the wind. The usual tuna pouch, cheese and crackers. Some peanut butter today too and several chocolate bars. And maybe other snacks, but I forget. Continued on into the afternoon, enjoying more fine hiking. Was getting admittedly tired of the frequent steep summit pitches. Legs are a bit weary perhaps.
At the aptly named Hogback Gap, with a half-dozen high knobs ahead on the horizon, the trail mercifully veered off to the east out of the gap and began several miles of pleasant contouring. This saved me from an hour of exhausting steep-ups and steep-downs. Thanks was given to the trail folks who redesigned and cut the new trail. Which isn’t so new anymore.
Blew through Cody Gap and Yellow Fork Gap and sauntered into here, Cable Gap, a fine old log shelter that cozily sleeps six. Big logs, cedar shake roof. Not too many of these old soldiers around anymore.
Tent and ground sheet are drying out in the sun. Socks and whatnot are up on a line too. Sun is strong and still high and skies are perfect blue, but you can tell there’s an increasing chill in the air. Supposed to drop into the 20s. We’ll see. Not too worried since I picked up my bivvy sack at NOC (thanks Fran for mailing!). Expect to be toasty.
Major thunderstorm last night at Locust Gap, complete with lightning and heavy rain. Storm raged most of the night. I was snug and mostly dry in the tent. Pulled my pack in last minute, glad I did so, even though it was a bit tight in there with Beastie. Foot of sleeping bag got a little wet with the blowing rain. Have to better adjust the tent fly next time. New tent, still making adjustments. No biggie.
Springtime is making itself known in small ways here in this part of the south. Saw my first dogwood in bloom a couple days ago. And the red maples have been popping for 3-4 in most places. Violets and several other small wildflowers – sound yellow, some white – are out here and there. Thought I saw what was a mayapple in bloom this afternoon. The shrubby growth is starting to break bud as well. Walking north with spring is one of the joys of being on the trail.
Fontana Village tomorrow, a major milestone. About 160 miles from Springer. All good. Beyond Fontana, the Great Smoky Mountains.