Day 3: Solitude and Swirling mists

Thursday March 14, 21.8 miles/35 km

Whitley Gap trail jct (38.0) to Steeltrap Gap (59.8) (GA)

I woke to the sound of slow raindrops on my tent, so I laid around hoping it would stop. Turns out, it was just condensed fog on the trees being blown off by the wind. I’m in no hurry, so I got going at 8am, only a 20 mile day today…

The fog muffled all the sound, and I was quite surprised to see a car appear 2 seconds after this photo was taken.

A few hours into the morning, a bear and I surprised each other, and s/he quickly ran off, so I have no photo. After that, I started playing music. I saw no people all morning!

I stopped at Blue Mountain shelter for lunch, and there were already 7-8 thru-hikers there getting set up for the night. In the beginning of this trail, most people do 8-12 miles/13-20km per day, so I guess they are done by lunch!

I was there for 30 minutes, so I got a little cold. When the temperatures are in the mid-50s and it’s wet, I either keep moving or get in my tent. So off I go…

This was a neat tree!

This trail has plenty of water sources, so much more than the PCT or CDT. Usually they are a small stream that crosses the path, but sometimes I get to drink from a waterfall.

I descended 1000ft/300m to Unicoi gap, then back up the same elevation to a ridge on the other side. It was noticeably colder up there on the ridge. But I see green, spring is coming.

Cool winding path.

Just before the shelter I intended to stay at, is an exciting waypoint on the map.

Turns out, there is no factory, and more importantly, no cheese. It was a historic 19th century cheese factory. I feel deceived! But not that surprised, since I questioned why anyone would build on an inaccessible 4000ft ridge…

I get to the Tray mountain shelter, and there is a sign “full” made from sticks on the ground. The photo doesn’t show it well.

So I continue another 1.5 miles to Steeltrap Gap. It’s almost 1000ft lower in elevation and much warmer. I arrive to camp at 5pm, and I see another tent already set up. They are a couple from Georgia who are section hiking a 30-mile segment. Rain is forecasted to start between 5 and 6pm, so we just talk thru our tents. Tomorrow is a short day, and the first town day!

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