Morning was on me before I knew it. I had actually dreaded this day as had the others. Although we felt that we were physically handling the trail today would involve 16.0 grueling miles including hiking up and over Cheoah Bald and climbing Jacob’s Ladder. From our camp to Cheoah was a climb from 1733 foot elevation to 5,072. Jacob’s Ladder was a knee crawling climb straight up that would challenge any sane human being obsessed with tackling this weird goal.
Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Being a purist I began by walking back across the railroad so that I could touch a porta potty that I had walked passed earlier. I touched it with my hiking pole thus completing the “touch” and ensuring that point of the trail was not left unhiked.
Within seconds I knew that sixteen miles would be a bear. This is what today’s hike looks like.
I worked my way up past Wright Gap and then across Grassy Gap. Along this area I finally caught up with my three fast compatriots only because they had to stop to change a tire.
Along the way I ran into Fred Steele and his friend Kevin who are section hiking from Winding Stair to Hot Springs. Kevin has named Fred Sure Foot simply because he isn’t. They are from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
It didn’t take long for the views to open up. The day was perfect for this in spite of the 16 miles.
A couple of miles into the hike we reached “The Jump Up” known for it’s beauty.
We all took a moment to enjoy it.
At 4,710 feet I made it to Swim Bald. By this time I was solo hiking.
Sassafras Gap behind me I found Silver and together we climbed to the summit of Cheoah Bald, There we met Chucker who has been on the trail since February 28th. He was originally hiking with his wife but she fell in Georgia and ended up with an ankle injury. He’s now solo.
Cheoah Bald at the half way point of today’s hike.
Eight more miles would have to take in Locust Cove Gap,Simp Gap, Stecoah Gap and Sweetwater Gap before I made it to my final goal for the day. Sadly for me dark clouds showed up first and managed to beat me to my goal.
The final hurtle was Jacobs Ladder. By that time I was dragging but there was no way to dodge it.
Finally I made it to the Shelter just as the Heavens opened up again with what became a very cold night inside of my first shelter . It was nothing to brag about. Wind up through the floor and in the non door in the front prepared us for a hectic night. I slept poorly but knew that tomorrow I would have hike on!