Day 18, March 28th

Today was a tough day for me.  I woke up early so I could get back to Franklin in time to return the rental car without any extra fees.

I love my family to death; but, I’m not sure it was a good idea to go home, or not.  It was pretty tough leaving them.

After four hours in the vehicle, I made it back to Franklin so I stopped by the Microtel Inn & Suites and picked up 6’12”.  We were going to head into town and check out an outfitter called Outdoor 76. They’re supposed to be the best in the industry when it comes to matching people to the correct footwear for their hike.

Apparently, the day before, 6’12” carried his shoes in there to get sorted out and they threw them away and made him buy new ones.  I guess they’re pretty serious.  Fortunately, after they’d measured my feet, they told my my shoes were perfect, swapped my insoles for another set (free of charge), and sent me on my way.

They had a small beer room in their store, so 6’12” and I each had a Duck Rabbit Milk Stout before leaving.  Good call.  It was freezing outside, so this warmed us up a little.



Afterwards, we hurried back to Enterprise to return the car.  Back to square one.  We were 10 miles from the trail and didn’t have a vehicle.  A woman stopped us to tell us that the Nantahala Hiking Club was hosting a hiker feed at a local brewery that hadn’t opened, yet.  She suggested that we go up there, eat, and talk to some of the club members to see if anyone would run us up to the gap.


We met a lady at the brewery who was retired and spent her time maintaining the trail.  She offered to drive us up to the gap that afternoon after everything had finished up.  We spent a little time helping them clean some stuff up and then piled all of our gear into her Margaritaville tagged minivan and headed up to Winding Stair Gap.  To our surprise, Jimmy Buffett was on the radio.

We pulled into the gap, thanked her for giving us a ride, and then got a dose of reality.  We were back on the trail.  Time to walk another 2,100 miles.


We did cross a footbridge right off the bat.  It didn’t seem to have the same appeal after being in town for a few days.



We walked about a third of a mile before we decided to set up camp.  Fortunately, we were able to find some motivation, in spite of the cold weather, and keep going.  We passed a few questionably named and vandalized gaps en route to camp that day.

Mom, I swear I didn’t do this…

I just happened to see this while hiking and figured I should immortalize it.


There had been some snow the day before that didn’t melt.  The trail looked kinda cool with snow on both sides.  



It started to get really cold.  Really cold.  We stopped to get water and decided to just go ahead and set up a camp shortly after there so we could make use of the last bit of daylight.  When I took my pack off, this is what my back looked like…


It turns out being covered in sweat is a bad idea when the temperatures are plummeting.  I was freezing.

A little further down the trail, we set up our camp for the night in a picnic area.  There was a fire ring there so we also started a fire to try to warm up.  It was incredibly windy so the heat didn’t really help us, it seemed to just blow off.

We only did about five miles today; but, in our defense, we didn’t start until about 3:30.

We hung bear bags and were in bed before the sun had gone down.  The temperature is supposed to get down in the teens with a lot of wind tonight.  I guess I’ll get to test the hammock in some cold weather.  Is confidently nervous a thing?



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