Unfortunately, the pain in my injured knee didn’t allow me to slack pack with Kirk on Friday (day 6). So, I took the day off at the Budget Inn in Hiawassee. Jack and I just hung out and napped all day.
On Saturday morning (day 7) the sun was shining and my knee was feeling much better, so I set off back to Unicoi Gap with intention to hike to Deep Gap. A day of sunshine was renewing for my emotional state, as well as for my knee. The trail was still sludgy, but the sun dried enough of it to make hiking an easier feat. I summited Rocky Mountain and Tray Mountain with relative ease. At the end of the day, the mile climb up Kelly knob was a bit of a challenge.
Deep Gap Shelter was just at the bottom of Kelly Knob, and I hit said shelter at 430pm; 13.1 miles completed in 6.5 hours. I met a few new hikers who started a day after I did at Springer. Since I took a zero day, I was a day behind all of the people I started with, and right on schedule with the others. We talked, laughed, and got ready to call it a night.
During the night, we all had our first encounters with shelter Mice and Rats. One tried to climb in the bag with me for warmth, I suppose, to which I replied him with a hefty toss across the shelter. About an hour later the rain started again, and they decided to call it a night as well.
Sunday (today – day 8), everyone is up at 7am; except for the mice, who I assume are still tired from a long nights work of terrorism. The torrential rain continues as I ready to hit the trail. I make it about a mile into the hike and then the real rain (add lightening and thunder) begins. It’s slow, arduous, and painful hiking today. The knee is feeling worse with every downhill, muddy puddle. I make it nearly 4 miles to Dicks Creek and decide I’ve had enough.
I’m now holed up at Top of Georgia Hostel about a half mile from the trail. It’s nearly at capacity with hikers waiting out the storm. I plan on getting dry here for the night and hopefully my knee pain will subside enough for me to make it to North Carolina tomorrow. Here’s hoping the knee returns to full strength and I can get back on schedule.
“No rain, no pain, no Maine”