May 15, 2008

From Icewater Springs Shelter, Charlie and I left at 9:15am and didn’t stop until TriCorner Knob Shelter for lunch at 3pm. It was a wet, cold, windy, miserable day, but we kept on keeping on with Standing Bear Farm in mind as a goal. We passed OD&CC, who I failed to mention earlier. We first met OD&CC at Fontana Dam, where they received a large mail drop from home and left some really good food in the hiker box. I picked up Meatless Mexican Rice and Charlie picked up Chicken and Brocolli. OD, a retired Army Ranger, is hiking with his wife, and packaged his own dried meals ahead of time. Charlie is pushing OD to start a small business, starting by sending meals to Charlie once OD gets back from his section hike.

At lunch, we caught up to Ted, who left earlier in the morning. He joined us for the remainder of the day’s hike.

From here it was nonstop until dinner at Cosby Knob Shelter, the most depressing shelter ever. It was completely packed with (obviously) section-hikers, Ted and Ryan (The Brothers Not), and Haggis (the Scotsman). It was 9pm when we rolled in for dinner, when most were going to sleep. There were groups of 3 or 4 people scattered about, day hikers, friends who came out to hike in the rain but ended up staring at the ground, not speaking. The Brothers Not and Haggis were great company through dinner, and when we left there was little to do but sleep. However this was only the beginning of the night for us 3 hikers. We had 7 miles to go and no sunlight. The only thing that keeps anyone going at night is conversation. “If you were to unintentionally fall off Clingman’s Doom, what would you yell?” “How many 5-year-olds would it take to kill you? 10-year-olds?” “What would you name your Leki poles?” “Why does Charlie call every headlamp a Petzl, and every trekking pole a Leki, even though he uses Black Diamond headlamps and trekking poles?”

We finally arrived at 12:25am, at Davenport Gap Shelter, 27.4 miles from our starting point. Sleeping here were the couple Turtlefast and Little Bear, and the Three Canuck Girls (Mama Maple, PB, Jam).

The Three Canuck Girls
The three canuck girls.

Let me stop here to introduce the Three Canuck Girls. Ever since I left Amicalola on day one, they’ve consistently been one week ahead (from reading shelter journals) and they always have the longest, most-thought-out journal entries. It was great to finally meet them, but not under these conditions.

We caused a little ruckus getting our packs sorted out but finally went to sleep around 1am.

There’s a good reason for all of this night-hiking, and it is two-fold. If you get to a hostel at night, you’re essentially paying only to sleep, and that’s wasted money. It’s also a zero-day, which is a waste of good daylight. So the best time to get to town (or to a hostel) is early in the morning, so you have a day off without losing mileage.