Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hike: Carter Gap Shelter

4/28/98--Carter Gap Shelter, 90.9 miles from Springer

J. told me I'm supposed to be starting my entries with where I am and the mile marker, so I'm going to try to be consistent.

We're sitting here talking about genitals and making Cheerios uncomfortable, but at least he's entertained. It's another beautiful new shelter like Muskrat Creek--the roof covers the dining area, which has a gravel floor, as well as the sleeping platform. Traveling in a group of 5, we fill most of the shelters we reach. We kind of take them over. The Fantastic 4 generate enough family chaos that our sheltermates barely notice Diva Dog and J.'s dog chasing each other around, and I'm alternately audience, participant, and translator, and general-purpose witness to the proceedings. My current plan is to travel with them to Fontana Dam, which I'm now planning to reach on the 7th. It puts me a good chunk of days behind schedule but I don't think I'll have trouble making them up later and this way I know I'll be in Nashville for my brother on the 8th, not stuck thumbing a ride from Clingman's Dome.

The Trail today was kind to us--12.5 miles in the same amount of time it took us to do 10.5 yesterday. Most of the day was spent crossing Standing Indian Mountain, our first peak over 5,000--and it was damn near 5,500, but the ascent and descent were so gradual it hardly seemed it. There was some FF chaos when J. went to the summit, thinking he was still on the Trail. J., being 6'7", is usually way out front with his dog and so he's the one who calls the breaks. By the time I started descending, I thought he, A., and D. were in front of me, since they had passed me in that order, but A. emerged on the Trail behind me, having had some business to take care of in the bushes, and passed me quickly. I went cheerily on, expecting to find the group gathering for a gorp break around Birch Gap. Instead, J's dog joined me and Diva Dog--from behind us. At first I thought she must have been hiking with A. and had gotten lost or gone exploring, but sure enough, J. came loping down to the gap with a report of the view from the summit and a story about waiting there for a half-hour for the rest of us to show before reading in Wingfoot's guide that he'd gone off the Trail. The end result was that we didn't get a gorp break and D. showed up at the shelter expecting to see J. and A. there but finding no one instead--and the old shelter across the Trail is a pretty scary place. He found Cheerios over here at this shelter which is so new it still smells of pine, and as everyone came in the story unfolded--several times over, for Cheerios's entertainment.

Man, oh man, I miss the Georgia ATC and I take back any griping I did. Those folkds know what they're doing--the erosion control in North Carolina has just been no comparison.

Some beautiful ravines in the last couple of miles today, full of rhododendron and hemlock--the first hemlock we've seen since pretty much the first day.

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