Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 19: Sassafras Gap Shelter, 144.0

Sorry this is delayed again guys. Service is just so spotty out here, and most campsites are in gaps between mountain. Today absolutely Sucked (yes with a capital S). I don't want to steal Wendy's thunder, but freezing, driving rain in 35° weather is just about as miserable as you can get. But anyway, back to your regular scheduled programming. And be mindful how just how quickly things change out here.

Greetings all! Breeze here at the end of a very perfect and exhausting day out here on the AT. Wow what a day. So much has happened that I almost don't know where to start.

For those keeping up at home, Wendy and I started the day just one mile short of the Nantahala Outdoor Center. It set us up perfectly to get in, resupply, and get out. Throngs and throngs of thru hikers had the same plan as us, and we completely took over the NOC. You should have seen all the packs sitting outside the poor NOC's little diner; the wait staff was pretty overwhelmed but they seemed to enjoy our company (and put up with the smell). It was really fun hanging out at the NOC with everyone. After we each grabbed an egg sandwich, we stood in line at the computer to print off our back country passes for the Smoky Mountain National Park. Our egregious procrastination cost us an hour and a half our our day. It seems procrastination is a trait among thru hikers.

The climb out of the NOC is no freaking joke my friends. We may have complained about climbs before...please ignore those comments. We went from 1,800 feet of elevation to right at 5,200 over 6 mile climb. Good lord! A few weeks ago, today would have left us in terrible, wretched moods. But we are getting a hang of this whole mountain climbing thing, and we tackled the bear of a day the only way we know how: with beer. A little liquid encouragement will go a long way guys. We decided that rather than attacking the mountain, we would have fun with her. We took several long breaks to crush a PBR and grab a snickers. We sat for a long while enjoying the view from the very tip top. Those views are called the "jump up" views. It was aptly named. This view gave us a great look at the Nantahala River in the gorge below. Definitely worth the work.

The resupply at the NOC lead us to meet up with a great group at Sassafras Gap. We sat around the fire for hours, swapping stories and jokes. The highlight of the campfire was listening to an old, wise hiker who has done with AT going on 3 times. Man he's got some stories. The most inspiring story was a about a group called the Bear Bag Boys. Every campsite, they would pick the highest limb in the area to string up their food. Sometimes they would spend hours trying to get it up there. Wendy and I need to step our game up.

We'll that's it for me! 8:30 is late for me these days...definitely past my bed time!

Here's to more great weather!


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