Thursday, December 14, 2017
Day One: 3.3 Outcasts Total Miles: 2189.2
Devil Fork Gap to Frozen Knob
Day Two: 5.9
Frozen Knob to Spring
Day Three: 7.4
Spring to Campsite
Day Four: 5.3
Campsite to Spivey Gap
Total Miles: 21.9
Well we brought on the weather again! We called our shuttle at Uncle Johnny's Nolichucky Hostel & Outfitter in Ewrin, TN and they had gotten three inches of snow on the ground. We said that we are on the way. When we got dropped off at Devil Fork Gap there was six inches of snow on the ground. Soon we found drifts ranging between knee and crotch high. Needless to say we didn't make the miles that we normally would make.
We made it to Frozen knob and found a place out of the wind to make camp. We got wood collected and camp set up before dark. It was a pleasant night on the mountain.
Long and hard day today. Lots of drift busting. We had problems at two places where they did a double blaze and nothing else within site. Both places were at intersections of trails. Normally the trail is a worn out cow trail, but when you cover it with a few feet of snow it is hard to find. We split up and went blaze hunting in both directions until someone found one.
We stopped at Hogback Ridge Shelter for lunch. There were bear tracks just in front of shelter. The cool thing about snow is you see what else walks through the woods. We ended up seeing many bear, deer, and smaller critter tracks over the days. It is a long walk to the spring at this shelter.
We saw our first people between High Rock and Sams Gap which is a popular day hike. They had packed the snow down so now we were hiking on a sheet of ice. We were grabbing everything we could to stay on the trail. From the road we hiked up to the first spring and then made camp at the bottom of the draw. We met a trail runner here that had made it to the Big Bald.
We got a fire going and enjoyed the evening. Looked at the map and tried to figure how far we would make it this trip with all the snow. Not to Erwin!
Today was windy day. We got to check out our new lightweight Froggtoggs jacket. It worked great for stopping the crazy wind that we walked in all day. We saw our first Southbound thru hiker today. We had seen him at Uncle Johnny's on day one. He told us that it was getting down to 12 degrees in the valley tonight and heavy wind. He was getting off the trail tonight for sure.
Who would have thought that after over 300 miles on the AT, they would put a Nature Trail off to the side? Really?? There really is one and I got a picture of the sign.
When we got to the Big Bald we ended up taking the bypass trail which the thru hiker had recommended because of the weather. The wind was quite strong now as we crossed Big Stamp. We made it to the campsite beyond Bald Mountain Shelter and set up for the night. Another good evening around the campfire.
By the time we went to bed the temps had dropped below 10 and the wind was bellowing. It blew all night long. We made the call to Johnny's and arranged a pick up at Spivey Gap. Last possible pick up point of our trip.
We woke up to a mild wind compared to the night. EVERYTHING was frozen. Water that was in our packs, boots, and we had to use our hiking poles to chip out our tarp stakes. It was bloody cold. We got a fire going and started thawing everything out.
We saw one backpacker today who thanked us for busting up the drifts for him over the miles. We called and verified our pick up time with Johnny's when we got to Trail to High Rocks. On the way down to Spivey Gap we actually found some dirt under the ice to walk on.
We got picked up by Doug of hikershuttles.com who was very nice and on time! His number is 423-270-9775 cell and home 423-743-8126.