NOC to Brown Fork Gap Shelter – 15.8 miles
I am hiking by 7 AM. I got an okay sleep in the bed. It rained hard for a couple of hours today. Jacob’s Ladder is a tough climb leading up to Brown Fork Gap Shelter, where I stop at about 2 PM for another short day. My knee isn’t too bad, but I want to give it a rest considering how badly it’s hurt the last couple days. I have a long way to go and I can afford to rest my knee a little.
I’m going through Fontana Dam tomorrow and it looks like it could possibly be a big day. I talk to Lindsay and view a video of Ryder on his new scooter! It’s very cute.
Forester Gump is here at the shelter. I saw him yesterday at the NOC general store, but didn’t talk or meet him until now. We talk most of the afternoon and evening. He’s a nice man, 60’s, bright guy. He retired from northern Virginia to a small village in the upper peninsula of Michigan, where this week, his house got another 12+ inches of snow, according to his wife. He’s a forester who is actually doing research while he is on the trail. Back in Michigan, his team was doing research and what they were studying (I can’t remember if it is a bug or tree disease, etc) is generally located along the alignment of the AT. So he proposed the idea that he would thru-hike the trail for four months, do measurements, notes, recordings, etc. and log the time he works. Good deal! I notice he kept copious notes in his journal.
He worked/lived in northern VA/DC for most of his career, doing mapping for NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency). He had run the JFK “years ago” and finished 31st in 7:44. He remembers the time specifically because he was bet a steak dinner that he couldn’t break 7:45. He currently has a bad knee (I think he said he put off knee surgery until after the hike), but has a 25 pound pack, which allows him to hike quickly. He shuffles and he moves fast.
I realize, when preparing to bear bag my food, that I left my bear bag rope and tent stake bag at Wayah Bald Shelter. When I had retrieved my bear bag yesterday morning, I wrapped up the rope and put it on the ground as I got food from the bag. Then I forgot to put it in my pack. Since I do not have my rope, I bear bagged my food on Forester Gump’s line. I need to find a place to get more rope or call Lindsay to send some with Debbie.
It’s a full shelter tonight. A couple of high school boys are thru-hiking and plan to get home to Maine just before their graduation ceremony. I don’t think they’ll make it.
Cheoah Bald, NC. Elevation 5,062′. Mile 145.2.