04-06-2018. Day 31. Nolichucky River to Indian Grave Gap. 8.4 miles. (352.2 + 8.8 = 361.0 Miles)

In Preparation of the Next Hike

The word was out…… bad weather was coming. Rain… maybe snow…. cold. We had one more decent day up until about three to hike. That would get us up the mountain out of the valley of the Nolichucky. Joe and I discussed it and asked Pam and Ron Aubert to meet us at Indian Grave Gap. That would allow us another 8.4 mile day and yet allow me to get off the trail before Saturday’s bad weather came in. We got up and packed our gear.

Nolichucky Hostel

A last look at the shelter and a goodbye to Jamie and Kylo who had decided to work there for a day or two and we were on our way across the bridge.

Thru Hikers are Very Energetic

The next wave of hikers were arriving. They had to wait for the bunks to be cleaned so they found ways to entertain themselves or in this case not to entertain themselves.

The Nolichucky River

As we walked across the bridge the river rushed below us.

Feeder streams to the Nolichucky

After 3 Miles we began to climb. We were above the Nolichucky Campground. The climb seemed easier than it should have been. My pack was loaded down with a full resupply.

Curly Mountain Gap Shelter

Pam and Ron were hiking South to meet us. If all went well we would all have about eight miles.

Techno

When we arrived at Curley Maple Gap Shelter we found Techno sitting there. I said hello but he remained silent. It took a moment but he finally began talking. He has asthma and now has a chest cold. He had been at Uncle Johnny’s for five days because he had to have a tooth extracted. Today he decided to hike but the four miles had kicked him pretty hard. I believe that he was considering calling it quits and it was not a pleasing thought to him. We offered him a ride from above with Pam back to Erwin. In the end he opted to stay at the shelter to consider his options.

Man With No Name

I’m not sure why he liked this name but we found him coming out of the woods as we were nearing the end of our hike. He had been hiking Southbound since last July. He took from Thanksgiving to Christmas as well as some time in January off and now was about 350 miles from the end. He said that all he could think about was being done with it.

Brother Bob the Trail Angel

Soon we were at Indian Grave Gap where we found Ron Aubert and Brother Bob settled into conversation. Brother Bob has been doing trail magic here for five years. He sits in this very spot. He told us that he used to do it six days a week but now is down to four or five during the bubble. I wondered about his life. He was out here giving but there was a twinge of negative in him. Maybe I was thinking too deeply. It would be a good time for a zero day. Bad weather was an hour away.

The Reunion of the Threesome

I was now in a situation where hiking again when the weather cleared would put me 8.4 miles ahead of the crowd which would be leaving at the same time. Ron should have been in this picture but somehow he escaped. We jumped in Pam’s vehicle and drove back to Erwin.

My hotel had a washer and dryer so a was set. We all went to a Mexican Restaurant and by the time we finished eating a cold miserable rain was falling. It could do that now…… I was safely in a secure location and ready for some down time.

Tomorrow I would definitely not hike on.

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