So, after a long drawn out, confusing discussion on meetup, and several last minute drop-outs and no-shows, 3 of us made the short journey to the NC/TN border last weekend. It was out attempt to close a gap from Devil Fork, to Sam’s Gap. Both are along roads straddling the NC/TN border. I had called Uncle Johnny’s shuttle service in Erwin, TN a week before and arranged a shuttle for 6. However, on the morning of the hike, only 3 of us showed up.
So, when I discovered we were going to be WAY earlier than expected, I gave them a call, and was told they would send someone ASAP. Along the way we got to see a good deal of snow on the sides of the road, and Jim was beginning to wonder if he should have brought along his traction devices for his shoes. I for one, was glad he didn’t. It’s hard enough keeping up with Jim on a normal day, much less when he has extra traction. Unfortunately I realized when we arrived at the parking spot, that I had forgotten my trekking poles in the seat of my car, back in Columbia, SC. I also forgot my gloves (I would later find them in the house that evening). Trail Magic came through, however, and off to the side of the trail someone had left a decent walking stick, rough cut from some hardwood. It looked like the type of thing you would make in a hurry when you forgot your poles. I took it with me, figuring it was left by the trail for a reason. Finally our shuttle driver arrived and took us to the other end.
Jim, Ken and I were dropped off after a missed turn and an intriguing conversation about a hiking dog (named Jerry Garcia) that hangs around Uncle Johnny’s. After being dumped on the side of the road, we picked up our very light packs and headed off on the trail. Day hiking is not really my forte’, as I’m way more used to planning for overnights or two-night trips. But having the light pack on was definitely a plus. 9 miles along the route was tough enough, since straight out the gate we had to go up around 1500 feet in slush, snow, and ice. Having 5 pounds on my back was MUCH better than 25 pounds. Almost right away I drank some of my water and grabbed some spare water in a creek, since it would be near the end of the hike before we ran across anything else.
The hike itself was nice. We would hit spots with no snow, then spots with 8 inches of snow. Coming downhill in thick snow was actually fun, since some of it was slushy. I could put my foot down, which would slide about a foot forward, then repeat with the other foot. It was a bit like skiing in places. We stopped about 5 miles in and had lunch, sitting on the few bare spots we could find, then it was up and over a final hill, and the push down to Sam’s Gap went rather well. I searched for a few caches near the end, but snow and ice made in a bit difficult in spots.
The closer we got to Sam’s Gap, the more people we saw heading into and out of the woods. The trail got well used and muddy, just in time for us to hit a short section of road before getting in the car. I dropped my walking stick where I found it that morning, hopefully someone else will find comfort in it like I did.
Afterwards, it was on to Papas and Beer in Asheville, where I got a huge Salmon Caesar salad, which was one of the best I can remember having in a while.
It was on the way home that my wife called frantically and said my daughter had broken her leg, but that’s another story. So – it took me a while to get around to making my hiking video for this trip, but here it is: