Day 40 River Road (Erwin, TN) to Cherry Gap Shelter (Mile 361.3)
When I took my zero day in Erwin, I fell behind a group I had been seeing on the trail and camping with for a long time. I have been in sync with the same people since after Franklin (which was around mile 106).
I decided to push some extra miles and try to catch the group I had been hiking with. I hiked about 17 miles, and ended up camping with three other hikers.
Day 41 Cherry Gap Shelter to Roan High Knob Shelter (Mile 378.9)
I decided to try for another big mileage day, and maybe catch my group in a day or two. I am planning to take 1 or 2 zero days for the Trail Days Festival which is coming up, so it’s a good time to push bigger miles. I know I’ll get to rest in a few days.
I made the decision to hike to Roan High Knob Shelter which is the highest shelter on the AT and known to be cold since it is at an elevation above 6000 feet. It was at a good mileage goal though at 17.6 miles.
I got an awesome view at the top, after a 5 mile uphill climb.
There was also a hotel site, which I was not very impressed with.
I got to the shelter, and looked at the shelter log. Some hikers had written messages that they stopped here for lunch and this shelter was ice cold. I knew I was about to have a cold night but decided to just deal with it.
Day 42 Roan High Knob Shelter to Unmarked spot near Elk River (Mile 401.4)
As predicted, it was a cold night in the shelter. I woke up several times just because it was so cold. As soon as the sun started to come up I packed up and left before 6:30am. The only relief was to hike down to lower elevation. I left the shelter wearing every item of clothing I had including both my puffy jacket and rain jacket.
About a couple hours later I stopped for an amazing view and coffee, and shed some of the many layers I was wearing.
I was looking forward to stopping at a shelter site that was a historic barn, the Overmountain Shelter. I also guessed that my group probably stayed there last night, which would mean I am now only 7 miles behind them (since Overmountain is 7 miles from Roan High Knob Shelter).
The barn was huge. I was a little jealous of everyone who stayed here instead of the freezing ice box I stayed in. It was a nice spot to stop for lunch though!
As I hiked away I got another last view of the barn.
I got a couple milestones today. I officially left North Carolina. I had been on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, but now am completely in Tennessee for a few more days.
I also crossed th 400 mile mark on the AT!!
I ended the day with 22.5 miles and found my friends camped near a river. It was fun to reconnect with them. They already had a campfire going.
Day 43 Unmarked spot to Campsite near Dennis Cove (Mile 420.0)
Today we are all trying to find the best way to get to Trail Days in Damascus, VA. The festival is actually on the trail, but at mile 470, which means we need to find a ride up there since we did not hike there fast enough.
I fell way behind the group. I was dragging from the big mileage days earlier in the week. I stopped to “ice” my feet in a cold river.
I took my time and hiked slowly.
I didn’t find the group so I figured they hiked 2 miles farther to the next shelter. It was late so I decided to camp alone and figure out my plan in the morning.
Day 44 Dennis Cove to Shook Branch Road (Mile 428.4)
I didn’t have phone service, but I heard from another hiker that 8 miles up the trail is a hostile that will shuttle to Trail Days, so I decided to hike to that point.
This section on the trail had some beautiful water falls.
Also as I was nearing the end of the 8 miles, I saw a small snake coiled up on the trail.
I ended up getting to the Boots Off Hostile. I booked a night and shuttled to the festival the next morning.
Day 45 Zero in Damascus, VA for Trail Days!
I spent the day at the festival. There were lots of gear vendors as well as free give-aways. I also reconnected with other hikers I had met early on the trail, but I hadn’t seen in a while.
I walked in the hiker parade with other hikers from this year as well as previous years.
I tented in Damascus in “Tent City” at the festival.
Day 46 Zero at Boots Off Hostile
I took a second zero day and booked another night at Boots Off Hostile.