Thursday, August 8, 2013
Start: Falls Branch Falls | Finish: Payne Gap | Miles: 14.4 | Total: 260.5
11:40 AM – Iron Bridge Cafe, Blue Ridge, GA. – Since I last stopped by here to chat with the owner about leaving a resupply box, the ownership has changed yet again. In fact, it appears the ownership has changed while I was on the trail – 2 weeks ago according to the new owners.
5 hours of hiking left today. So far it’s dry but cloudy and “rainy” or threatening. Was up and out by 8:50 again – not wanting to get here before they opened, by too much. I had forgotten that they are also a breakfast place.
Talked to a guy in a big off-road F-250 (or Ram 2500?) with winch bumper, who is familiar with the BMT and a hiker & mountain biker himself. He gave me his number in case I needed a ride from Springer down to Amicalola. Nice offer which I may just take him up on. Although, as he pointed out, it should not be too hard to find someone on top of Springer on a Saturday afternoon, to give me a ride.
Spent nearly two hours at Iron Bridge, letting my phone charge up, eating breakfast – their famous Grits Bowl with eggs & bacon – drinking coffee and journaling. Needing to hit the trail but enjoying the break. It may rain this evening, and I would rather be under a tarp than walking when it does. I did receive an envelope with my last map and some nice notes from home.
2:15 PM – Garland Gap – Spending a few moments taking advantage of one of those “serene” moment mentioned before. Peaceful and breezy. Also to record that I just suffered my first real “wild animal attack” – about 45 minutes ago I was stung by yellowjackets in about 8 places simultaneously. It could well be that it was only 4 or 5 of them, and several were “double taps”. One on each of my calves, then on the backs of my knees. One on my left shoulder, one on my sclap, then two more on my abdomen as I was removing my backpack to get to my first aid kit several minutes later. That one musty have been tangled in the folds of my shirt or belt and found flesh as I was taking it off.
At first I thought the one on my shoulder was a spider, because I am constantly walking through spider webs. As soon as I saw it was a yellow jacket, and that it was stinging me, I felt the two on my legs. I tried not to flail about, but kept walking briskly while trying to flick them off. Seems like every time I thought I got rid of one, another would appear somewhere else. Anyway, I finally got away from them and took some benadryl. The swelling seems to have gone down, but the nature of these stings is that it constantly feels like there is one on you, stinging.
Around 4 PM I run in to NOBO hiker #3 – Joshua (no trail name – didn’t get a last name but pretty sure this is he) from Nashville. He said he was hiking the BMT/AT loop. His backpack was tiny! – I don’t know how he carried any food or a sleeping bag. My food bag alone would have taken up 2/3 of his backpack. So I reckon he must be a real ultralighter. I’m only “lightweight” at 25-28 lbs fully loaded with food and water. I mistook him for a day hiker at first, when I saw his pack.
Overall a good day, except for the stings. I spent too much time at Aska Rd., but it was a good recharge of both me and my electronics. My shin bothered me off and on, but not too bad. Weather turned out nice – it never did rain properly, only a couple of short sprinkles mid afternoon. I rolled in to camp at 6:10 PM, after 6:20 of actual hike time. I have taken to writing that down on my day-plan pad, just out of curiousity. That comes to 2.3 mph. Yesterday averaged to 2.18 mph and I felt like I was dragging. Day before was 2.3 and felt good. That was when I started writing it down.
The frogs started going crazy as soon as the sun went down. It has been thundering nearby for the past 45 minutes, but it sounds like it has moved on without raining on me. I rated this camp site – Payne Gap – as creepy and uninviting, on the last hike. It’s not great or scenic, but feels familiar this time around. The water source that was a muddy smudge which I did not even recognize as the “spring” they must have been talking about the last time, was actually flowing today, so I did not have to go as far for water.
Tomorrow’s target is Bryson Gap. I passed through that site having camped on Wildcat Ridge about 1 mile away, so I will get to try something different.