3/22/12 – Day 14 – Big Spring Shelter – 10.0mi/100.7tot

Good day today. Started out nice. Got up about 9 and was the last out of camp just before 10. Made it to Carter Gap Shelter 3.2mi away by 11:15, pretty quick. Afterwards the trail got progressively tougher. Mooney Gap started with a steep climb onto a ridge with a seemingly 100ft drop off the right side. Of course it was misting, muddy, rocky, and rooty just to add to the danger. The ledges seemed to be h

View from Albert Mountain

eld up only by the roots of the trees I had to climb around.

Albert Mountain Fire Tower

This was nothing compared to the final climb up Albert Mountain (5250ft). 500ft up in .2-.3 miles. Very few stairs, mostly just climbing straight up boulders. Rock climbing with a pack, not hiking.

The sky cleared of fog and heavy clouds for just a bit, making the view from the top totally worth the trouble. I see why there is a detour trail for bad weather. The view went of for miles with rolling hills beneath the large mountains around the side. Upon climbing the steps of the metal fire tower, somehow made more harrowing than the rocky climb due to heavier winds, I could see even further and over the treetops in the opposite direction. The approaching clouds were and awesome sight. Seeing them quickly roll over the other mountain tops in the wind, while imagining the fogginess below to be just like what I had been hiking in all day.

After hanging around for about an hour, I finally moved on down the half-mile or so to make camp near Big Spring Shelter with Dave, now known as Jobs, Jason now known as Maps, and Shiann now Divining Rod.

Once again, I ate dinner twice, thanks to the kindness of Dave offering me another Mountain House. Beef Stroganoff with noodles. He says he is getting sick of eating them everyday. Unfortunately for him, he has a resupply box full of them awaiting his arrival at the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) in another 40mi. I chose to forgo the planning and investment of mail drops in favor of buying food in the local stores. It is much easier, takes less planning, and can be cheaper, but I have to be more open to possibly less appealing food choices. What they sell is what I get.

View from Albert Mountain

Jason is Maps because he is one of the few thru-hikers to actually bring a real map and he always seems to have his nose in it. Shiann is Divining Rod because the first time she went to dig a cat hole, with all the trees in the woods, she managed to go right out and dig up somebody else’s.

Finally broke 100mi today, a big milestone. Tomorrows hike will probably be about 9mi to near the road. It doesn’t look bad and should set me up for easy access to the shuttle for Franklin at 9am the next morning.