Monday, July 29, 2013
Start: Upper Lost Cove – CS 91 | Finish: Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort | Miles: 9.8 | Total: 97.2
I did not journal to speak of, on this day, just jotted down some notes. Most of this will be going from memory.
First order of the day was a climb up Sassafrass Gap, where the AT crosses the BMT. This was one intense, steep climb, the steepest on the BMT, and it lasted for 2 miles. Where the two trails cross I ran in to BMT through-hiker Golden, with hiking companions and section hikers Cole and E-dog. I grabbed a hurried snapshot of Golden, because I was kicking myself for not having taken a picture of Oreo. Golden said she remembered Oreo from the Indian Rock shelter in Georgia. She also warned me of very overgrown trails in my future.
I considered for a moment whether to hike the half mile south on the AT to climb the Shuckstack fire tower, but decided against it. My resupply situation at 20 Mile Ranger Station was still up in the air: The original plan to have Aimee meet me there to pick up Jason and deliver the resupply box was turned on its head with Jason’s extraction last Wednesday. Aimee said she would try to ship the box to Deal’s Gap, but there was no way for me to know whether she was succesful until I arrived at Deal’s Gap. If she was unable to ship it on time, there was a chance she would be waiting at 20 Mile at the prearranged time – again no way to confirm this. I weighed the chances and need for a cell signal from Shuckstack with the on-time arrival at 20 Mile, and decided not to add the time, extra mile, and scenic view to the itenerary.
10 minutes after leaving Sassafrass Gap I saw my first bear of the trip. I heard it before I saw it – It was above me off the trail, scrambling towards the ridge away from me. Shortly after this I joined the 20 Mile trail, and the rest of the walk out of the Smokies was on previously hiked trails. Years Ago Jason and I walked this section on our Gregory Bald hike.
I arrived at 20 Mile shortly after 12. Had lunch at the picnic table there, and hung out till 1 pm in case Aimee showed. At 1:10 I left a note on the announcement board just in case, and began the 2.8 mile road walk to Deal’s Gap. Arrived a little after 2. They said my package had not arrived, but they had spoken with Aimee, and were expecting it. I went to the Tavern to get a burger and wait. As soon as I sat down the front desk lady found me to say that the box had arrived on the UPS truck.
My next step was to decide where to stay for the night. I thought it might be neat to get a ride in to Robbinsville, or do some laundry. The Fontana Hike Inn has a “Through-Hiker Special”, with a shuttle ride, a load of laundry, a room for the night, and a ride in to town for dinner for one fixed price. My 2011 guide book listed $60, so I was expecting perhaps $70-75 for this deal in 2013. When I called them they said they were full, but if I stayed at the nearby Tuskegee Inn ($55) they would be glad to shuttle me to/from Deals Gap, Tuskegee Inn, and Robbinsville for…. $75. So I booked a room at Deal’s Gap.
The DGMR amenities are sparten to say the least. A concrete block room with vinyl tile floor, a queen bed (might have been a double, even) and a steel bunkbed. Tube TV with basic cable. Some steel wire shelving. I was able to wash some socks and underwear in the sink, and rigged up a clothes line across the front of the air conditioning unit’s fan. I spent the afternoon sorting out and repacking a week’s worth of meals while the clothes tried to dry. Dinner was a bratwurst hotdog from the Tavern. And cheesecake. Finished off with American Pickers and Jackass on TV.