Day 14

Start: Betty Gap
Finish: Rock Gap Shelter
Miles: 8.4 Total Miles: 106.0

Another milestone today. I made it past a hundred miles. I should probably have gotten a photo or a plaque or something to denote this momentous event, but I managed to hike right past the hundred mile mark without noticing it.

The day started off with a climb up Albert Mountain. From the map it looked absolutely terrifying, seemingly going straight up to the peak. And it was very steep, with a couple of spots where I had to throw my hiking poles up ahead, so I could use my hands to clamber over rocks. But all told, it took only about a half hour to do the worst part of it. On the top of the mountain is an old fire tower, that the Forest Service locks up, but you can still climb to just below the top level. Why does one want to climb further up a rickety tower (it wasn’t really rickety, Mary) after climbing a steep mountain path? Humans be crazy, I guess. The views were worth it. It was a beautiful day with crystal clear visibility, or what counts as crystal clear visibility in the Southern Appalachians.

As luck would have it, I managed to pull a muscle in my left calf, and not on the steep ascent, but on the approach trail. So I had to nurse that for the rest of the day, which slowed me down, although I still made it to Rock Gap Shelter by three. The next gap, where one can get a ride into Franklin, NC was another 3.8 miles ahead, but I figured at the pace I was going, I’d get there close to dark so I decided to pull up and camp at the shelter. I was the first one there and soon joined by Greenman, Ofie, Paradox, Lean Too, and a bunch of others who I’ve seen the last several days. It seems like everyone is planning on getting off in Franklin tomorrow. I will also, and take a further zero to heal up, resupply and buy a few new pieces of gear.

The Smartwool boxers I have performed as advertised via a vis resisting odors (thank god), but unfortunately I seem to be prone to some sort of rash from them. So I’m going to have to replace them at one of the outfitters in Franklin. I need a new carabiner for hanging my food bag as the one I have is shot. Small things like that.

Tonight is the fourth night in a row I’ve camped out which makes it the longest continuous camping expedition I’ve spent in my life. The surprising thing is how many other people I’ve encountered who are in the same boat. Everyone you talk to is pretty upbeat and having a good time.

With the pulled muscle and all, I was tired and hit the sack early. Too early. Apparently, shortly after I retired a couple of women showed up at the shelter, coming up from a road which was just below the shelter, and brought a couple of pizzas and bunch of beers. Trail magic. Which I missed again, and it was literally no more than twenty feet from me. When I saw a few remaining beers sitting on the picnic table in the morning, Lean Too told me what I missed. He joked that I might consider changing my trail name to No Magic. It’s appropriate but I’ll stick with Metallic for now.

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