AT Day 020: Thursday April 27, 2023

Mile 283.5 + 17 miles / 27.4 km

Total Distance Hiked:  300.5  miles / 483.6 km

Rich Mountain – Spring Mountain Shelter – Allen Gap – Log Cabin Drive – Little Laurel Shelter –  Bear Wallow Gap – Lick Log Gap 

A: 4430 ft/ 1381 m ~ D: 3870 ft/ 1180 m

So it turns out it was a  bear bothering our neighbours. Hammer was woken around 2 am with banging and shouting for the bear to go away. I slept through the whole thing. We were both woken around 4am by the same shouting. It was pitch black, I whispered to Hammer ‘ should we pack up and leave?’ . He replied ‘no not really, so far it’s left us alone’. That’s a small comfort, I was uneasy…but after some nervous time lying in the tent straining to hear any movement, I rationalised that what ever will be, we will deal with it. And with that thought fell soundly asleep and did not stir till 6 am. Hammer stayed awake for a while keeping his ears open for signs of any movement around the tent.  

You do feel so vulnerable in a thin nylon shell and not being able to see outside. We are looking forward to warmer weather and being able to camp without the tent fly so you can see the stars at night. 

Hammer said it was not a good idea to make coffee so we promptly packed up and were on our way well before 7 am. 

We had camped on a ridge just below a fire tower. The other tents were a couple hundred metres away, not that far really. No evidence of any bears now. The sky was grey and the mist in the air clung to our wet weather gear. 

It didn’t take too long before we were sweating so much we had to stop and peel layers off. Hiking was quite pleasant despite the grey skies and the thick mist condensing into rain drops. We were feeling lucky because it wasn’t pouring with rain.   

We passed the Spring Mountain shelter as the last few hikers were leaving there for the days hiking.  From here were were passing a steady stream of slack packers going in the opposite direction, hiking back into town. 

A hiker from the shelter caught up to us and we hiked with him for a bit. His trail name was Professor, due to his long association with the boy scouts. He is from New York and wishes his wife was more interested in hiking. He is planning on doing the whole through hike. 

We were talking away when on arriving at the road at Allen’s Gap we saw a sign to Cookie Lady…turn right.  Which we of course did.  Just as we arrived about 10 hikers were leaving. The Cookie Lady us Peggy originally from Ohio now retired to this beautiful cabin in the woods. She baked some Peanut Butter cookies and had them all individually wrapped. There was also fresh water, a bathroom and a  trash can. What more could a hiker need. Also stopped for a cookie were a couple hiking with their dogs. The dogs were so well behaved. Peggy’s cabin was set on 13 acres and is technically located in North Carolina although the Tennessee border was just up the road. 

With such random acts of kindness it was wonderful to leave Peggy’s beautiful cabin on a high note. 

As we hiked away the sky was still grey  with a few raindrops every so often. After climbing back out if Allen’s Gap Hammer and I stopped for lunch knowing that the next shelter would be busy with hikers. Just as well we did, because soon after lunch the occasional raindrop turned into steady rain which showed no signs of letting up. Although we were not overly uncomfortable  with the rain, it was just becoming miserable as the afternoon progressed. The trailside blooms did lift my spirits a bit. A heavy mist/fog closed out any views and we were just plodding along. At around 4pm we agreed that at the next flat spot we are stopping.  I could almost taste how nice it will be,  to be sheltered and warm. We came upon a great campsite at  Lick Log Gap. Such a relief to get under cover, into dry clothes and into our warm sleeping bags. And it was a bonus that we had an AT&T connection. How amazing, in the middle of nowhere we are connected to the rest of the world.