Friday, November 17, 2017

AT - Devil Fork Gap to Hot Springs

Day One: 5.5                                                        Outcasts Total Miles: 2167.3
Devil Fork Gap to Shelton Graves
Day Two: 7.3
Shelton Graves to Spring
Day Three: 10.1
Spring to Spring
Day Four: 7.6
Spring to Campsite
Day Five: 4.9
Campsite to Hot Springs
Total Miles: 35.4

Day one consisted of getting there. We used the same shuttle service Bluff Mountain Outfitter. After hiking to Flint Mountain Shelter we had to make the decision to hike on or not with the early sunset. We voted to go on to the next spring. Unfortunately we hiked into a cloud and which made a bad mix with the dark. With the head lamp on you could see about four feet in front of you. Without the light you could make out about six feet. We continued on until we crossed over a spring. From there we climbed up the side of the mountain until we found trees spaced to hang our hammocks on and then set up camp. Troy stayed at the campsite while we got water so we could follow his voice and light to make it back. Everything was wet so we used the Luci light to eat dinner by and visit under until bed time. We looked like a couple of bums under a street light. We had a screech owl to get our attention in the dark.

Day two:

We got up. The cloud had moved on and the wind had dried off our tarps. It looked to be another great day. At Jerry Cabin Shelter we met a couple who were Southbound thru hikers. He had on a fancy pair of waterproof mittens made by Mountain Laurel which we questioned him about.

Today we got to experience Big Firescald Knob, a mile and half section of the trail that crossed a rocky top mountain ridge. You did have to use your hands to climb part of this Knob. Lot's of great views, but you had to earn them.

We hiked past White Rock Cliffs to the next spring. Climbed the hillside and made camp for the night. We had lots of dry wood and leaves so we got a campfire going. Once again the cloud came in for the night and totally soaked everything. We heard owls and coyotes thru the night.

Day three:

Long steep downhill today. Our goal is to reach water after crossing Allen Gap. Like every other gap there is a steep climb out. We finally got to Deep Gap and had to hike Little Paint Creek trail to get to our water for the night.

The wind picked up in the gap after we got set up for dinner. While we ate the wind died down. We decided to visit under the old Luci light again tonight. No fire. It sprinkled on and off during the evening and then rained in the night.

Day four:

We got up and while eating breakfast, a big old buck walked by camp. Shortly afterwards as we were hiking another deer crossed the trail stopping in front of us. Then of course here comes the hunter looking for the deer.

Today had a lot of climbs and down hills. When we got to the fire tower they had removed the bottom steps to keep people from climbing it. We crossed US 25 on the bridge and then hiked to the pond which turned out to be a rough water source. We went back up to the spring feeding the pond and filtered our water. We carried our water to the Pump Gap trail and made camp for the night.

The weather was great and we had a good campfire with plenty of wood for the night.

Day five:

Today was a few good ups and downs before the steep climb down to Hot Springs. Lots of views on the way down followed up by another meal at the Smoky Mountain Diner.

We have now passed the 309.1 mile mark on the Appalachian Trail.


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