North to Fontana

Shelter Log Entry:

January 19, 2013

Cable Gap Shelter, Appalachian Trail, 6:20 pm

Taking advantage of the long weekend (MLK) and taking another section northward.  Stecoah Gap to Fontana Dam this time.  It’s going to be a cold one – 38 right now & supposed to get in to the 20’s tonight.  alone here in the shelter, the sound of the stream makes me think I hear voices coming down the trail.  Not creepy at all.  The wood is damp from last week’s rain, so no fire.  Just as well – it’s getting to be dark-o-clock.

— Happy hiking,   DM

Summary of the day:
12:15 – Arrive at Stecoah Gap
12:25 – Start hiking
1:30 – Arrive at Brown Fork Gap shelter.  Met 2 guys walking southbound, highschool aged or college.  Frame packs, big knives.  They were stopping at Brown Fork for the night.
2:00 – Water just north of Brown Fork
3:15 – Break at Cody Gap campsite, contemplating staying there for the night (6 miles on the day).  Met another couple hiking SOBO, man & woman.
3:25 – Left Cody Gap
4:20 – Crossing Yellow Creek Gap, a man in a pickup was taking a “water break”, asked me if I flushed out any birds on the trail.  I had seen one pheasant.
4:50 – Arrived at Cable Gap Shelter.  8.5+ miles total.  Set up bear bag.  I always do this first – you can set up hammock in the dark, but hanging a bear bag is near impossible.  Collected some fire wood (same comment).  Set up hammock.  Attempted to build a fire, which burned for 20 minutes max, mostly smoldering.
5:50-ish – official sunset.  Cooked dinner. Ate
7:15 – went to bed.

My top & underquilts are rated “3-season” and are minimalist in coverage.  Investing in a 4th season outfit would be cost prohibitive for me, so this was to be a test of how low can I go.  Not pushing the envelope of survival, merely of comfort.

Cold weather sleep prep:  polypro longjohns over silk base longjohns, wooll socks.  Tech T, longsleeve tech T, polypro  pullover, fleece jacket, wool cap, fleece gloves.  Sleeping bag liner.  Hot water bottle (1 liter Nalgene inside a wool sock, keep near belly).  Experimenting with space blanket layer on top of the underquilt.  No way to tell if or how well the space blanket worked, but I was as comfortable as I’ve ever been at these temps.  It got down to 30 that first night – I have been down to 28 with this setup minus the space blanket.  I was hoping for a more severe temperature test.

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