04-04-2018. Day 29. Hogback Ridge Shelter to Whistling Gap. 13.6 miles (330.5 + 8.8 = 339.3 Miles)

I guess that I’m very fortunate that I sleep soundly even when the conditions are less than ideal. Sometime after I fell asleep the thunder storm hit accompanied by high winds. I had pitched my tent on an incline that was covered in leaves and soft soil. It was great for pushing in your tent stakes. Joe’s tent was just a little bit below me. Also in camp were Spoons, Sunshine, Ghost, Tallboy, Close Call, Kylo, Buck, Robin, Headwig, and Squid.

Joe said it hit about three AM. A driving rain, high winds, thunder and lightning. Close Call told me that he was just waiting for a tree to fall on him. Ghost and Kylo were both in hammocks and were drenched. Several had their tent stakes torn from the ground leaving their tent integrity compromised.

I woke up for my normal reason but soon realized that something was wrong. My feet were in water. That shouldn’t have happened in a tent on an incline. I managed to slide my pack under my sleeping mattress and elevate myself above the water. My gear was soaked but I fell back to sleep. In the morning it was still raining and we stalled getting outside. I had to pull my drenched pants on in a repeat of what had happened in the Smokies. When I went outside I saw that the wind had torn out all of the stakes for the rain fly from the soft soil leaving the tent exposed. Many others had experienced the same thing. It was going to be a wet morning. I packed the saturated equipment up with frozen fingers. The equipment now weighed what seemed to be a ton. In spite of that we managed to get out of camp.

Biscuit Climbing to High Rock

Joe is not too sure about his trail name Biscuit Joe. I maintain that it’s his fault that he got it simply because he always buys one before each hike, takes only a few nibbles in the restaurant, nibbles on it while hiking, and then takes the rest home for the next three days. We can’t call him glutton.

Dude Reflects on Friendships Found

Upon reaching Sam’s Gap we got into Joes car and drove to a little country cafe called Little Creek Cafe. Two country gals ran the business and they worked mightily to please us. They succeeded! Home cooked food included a chicken casserole that was to die for. It allowed us to dry our clothes while sitting there and they even had a toilet that you could push a little silver handle and it would make water rush into a bowl. I thought about washing my hands in that bowl but they had a sink right next to the bowl that actually had hot water. My hands had not felt that in quite awhile so I went with that. We thanked the girls profusely and drove back to the trail.

Once we made another significant climb we came upon a long Bald with this guy Dude sitting on it. I took his picture before he knew I was there. It turned out he had hiked the entire AT five years ago and today had returned to the spot where he had met his very best friend. He didn’t say where the friend was now. He offered us some herbs. Biscuit asked if he meant basil or spice. The return look was blank. I told him “no thanks… we’re good” and we left him to zone on his own.

Biscuit Hiking the Meadow Bald

It was a pleasure to hike normal ground for awhile. We moved along casually and it allowed our bodies time to recover from the previous night.

The Range Already Hiked

Biscuit Joe Hiking Toward Tonight’s Camp

Defib Drying His Gear

You may notice extraneous equipment hanging from my pack. Today my pack acted as a clothes line to dry gear as we hiked. There was no way I wanted wet gear tonight. It was supposed to drop into the 20’s.

Crossing Into Cherokee National Forest

We almost became spoiled hiking this terrain with this much sun out.

Biscuit Joe Gavalda of FairPlay, South Carolina

Defib Garland of Walhalla, South Carolina.

Our First View of Interstate Near Erwin

We had a long way no go but it was evident that we were getting closer to both the interstate and Erwin.

Nature Trail

I’m not sure what this sign meant. These forests are eat up with nature. What made this particular spot more of a nature trail alluded us.

Bald Mountain

This one was a worker. That’s Bald Mountain up ahead. The climb was a killer.

Biscuit Checks His Equipment Which was Tracking Our Elevation Changes

Once an hour I would stop and check our mileage to ensure that we would be able to reach our intended destination. It was especially important tonight with the temperature drop.

The Conquest of Bald Mountain

Practicing For Mt Katahdin

Joe Has the Touch Down Pat

For those of you who have followed my writings of our hiking you know that when reaching a significant spot or intersecting a trail that we have hiked before it is required to complete a ‘touch’. It’s a simple matter of joining all things explored into a connected unit with the wanderer. Bald mountain was now connected to my home, the leaning tower of Pisa, Stonehenge, the Acropolis, a hut in Peru…… you get the idea.

Brought to You By the Summit of Bald Mountain

My favorite

The Street Sign of the AT

I’ve now been following this symbol or white paint slashes for about 330 miles. As a bonus I’ve been able to hike this day with a friend. Although enduring a storm the night before and looking forward to freezing temperatures tonight we were blessed with chilly but beautiful weather for today’s hike.

Biscuit is perfect to hike with in that he has a natural curiosity about what is around him so he doesn’t miss much. He also enjoys walking the extra feet it takes to get the better view, check out an anomaly of nature, or satisfy his curiosity. We hike quiet…… we hike in quiet conversation…..he talks of his wife and children often. While enjoying this he misses them. His formula for living means that he will be blessed with both.

So for three days we will hike on and then he will be able to return to his loving family. Joe Gavalda….. Biscuit expert.

5 thoughts on “04-04-2018. Day 29. Hogback Ridge Shelter to Whistling Gap. 13.6 miles (330.5 + 8.8 = 339.3 Miles)

  1. Wayne, didn’t realize you were from SC! I look forward to your entries each time. Inspiration. Through hiking the AT is on my bucket list. Hope to section hike next year with a friend. Keep on trekkin and tellin.

    Liked by 1 person

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