At around 8pm on Tuesday night, a fellow thruhiker named Phillip joined us at our campsite. He had pushed on from Neels Gap in the dark because heavy showers were expected to start later that evening and continue until late Wednesday night.
Sure enough, we awoke at 11:52 that night to howling winds and pelting rain. The tent performed well under the stress but by the time we packed up to leave at 6:30am we, and our gear, were soaked through.
We slogged through 7 miles in the wind and rain before hunkering down at the Low Gap Shelter at 10am. We were in good company as a number of other hikers opted to keep the mileage short and wait out the rain. This was our first real opportunity to chat with other thruhikers, scope out their gear, and see what shelter life was all about. Willett was an absolute delight, making many friends before curling up in a ball at the foot of our sleeping bag.
Despite ambitious plans to hike out at 3am (when the rain was rumored to end), we awoke at six the next morning to the steady patter of rain on the shelter roof. We pressed on and although the morning was touch and go, we did get patches of sunshine by noon!
One of few photos taken during the past few days… The Appalachian Trail pretending to be a stream! There was a stretch of several miles where we would have perhaps preferred a kayak over boots and poles.
A few more photos indicative of dampness:
We knew we’d be heading into Hiawassee today, so we ended up pushing close to 20 miles yesterday to get as close as possible before dusk. As we set up camp at Sassafras Gap, the snow that had been on and off in the afternoon began accumulating outside our tent. The night ended up to be bitterly cold and windy, making for an evening of little sleep.
We awoke early this morning, eager to hike the 7 miles to Dick’s Creek Gap where there is a shuttle in to Hiawassee. There were a few rough patches in there–fatigue and cold can do a number on morale–but we are now happily resting at the Budget Inn in Hiawassee. Hot showers, clean clothes, and climate control!!!
Looking for our first meal in town, we found a little family restaurant. We ate burgers with extra sides of fried veggies and our first dessert of the trip: