BMT Day 2 – Payne Gap

Monday, June 27, 2011  /  Payne Gap  /  8:52 pm

Toccoa River suspension bridge

What a weird, shitty day.  Started off OK.  On the trail by 7:46.  Passed two guys camping at Bryson Gap at 8:15.  Made it to Toccoa River Footbridge at 9:20.  It’s an amazing timber & steel cable suspension bridge, and a very scenic river.  That was leg 1.  Leg 2 was uneventful and unmemorable, arriving at Highway 60 at 11:15.  The guide book said not to get water from the creek right there (chicken farm upstream) but said there was a boxed spring nearby.  I spent 1/2 hour looking for it but could not find it.  According to the guide book, the next water was only 2 miles up the trail – one hour.  Straight uphil, it turns out.  An hour later I was checking my map when I realized I had been looking at the wrong page in the guide.  It was another 3 miles to water!  again mostly uphill.  It was an honest mistake:  Skeenah Gap and Little Skeenah Gap are two different places on two different pages.

When I finally got to water (ran dry 1/2 mile before reaching it) it was 2:15.  I’d walked 12 miles, the last 5 with no breaks, uphill.  I took a long break there, dozed in the hammock, some reading, then up at 4:00 to knock out the last 4 miles to Payne Gap.  I didn’t want to make the same mistake as yesterday, so I made sure the last stop would have water.  The guide said “campsite with water 0.15 miles down an old logging road north from Payne Gap.”  I walked at least 1/2 mile before finding a fire ring, but no water in sight.  I finally found a creek 1/2 mile in the other direction.  It was too late to hike on, and by then I had resigned myself to skipping dinner and toughing it out the 3 miles to Wilscot Gap the next morning on my remaining 3/4L of water.  Finding the creek saved me from that.

The camp site is at an intersection of the trail and an old logging road.  To the north is a bizarre network of crisscrossing logging roads and a horseshoe of tiered levels, like an abandoned dirt quarry, all overgrown with trees and underbrush.  The whole place has a creepy unnatural vibe.

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