After reaching Dick’s Gap last night we were faced with a dilemma. The trail north of Dick’s continues for over 30 miles with no crossroad or a way to get off the mountain. Typically that would not be a problem except for the weather forecast. Monday showed rain and snow and lows in the teens. Tuesday’s forecast was the same. However, Wednesday’s forecast calls for lows in the single digits with wind chills below zero.
We thought we could probably handle Monday and Tuesday but Wednesday will be dangerous on the mountain. My sleeping bag is rated at 5 degrees but Pilgrim changed to a cooler 30-degree bag in order to sleep better than last year. So with Catherine’s help, we came up with these possible options:
1) Go for it.
2) Take three or four days off the trail and wait for better weather.
3) Jump on the trail north at Nantahala Outdoor Center and continue as planned to Fontana skipping a significant section in the middle.
Sooo… option one was not happening. Pilgrim and I do possess one good brain between us (75% Pilgrim and 25% SlimTim).
Option 2 did not appeal to me. I am here to hike and I’m not crazy about waiting.
So we went with option 3. Catherine and Pilgrim have some amazing friends who live nearby, Jim and Naomi. A quick call to them and Jim volunteered (!) to drive up from his home in Sky Valley, Georgia and haul us up to Nantahala. We owe Jim a huge bit of gratitude and a steak dinner at a later time.
Around noon we were back on the trail climbing up to Sassafras Gap. The climb was steep. Here is an elevation map of today’s hike.
We made it to the shelter about 90 minutes before dark. We set up tents and ate. Shortly after retiring to our sleeping bags it started raining. It will be interesting to see what we have in the morning. I wouldn’t be surprised to see several more inches of snow on the ground.
Time to sleep