Sunday March 17, 25.6miles/41.2km
Standing Indian Shelter (85.9) to Panther Gap (111.5) (NC)
I woke up at sunrise (7:30), and stayed in my sleeping bag until the day warmed up. It was 27F/-3C outside the tent! It takes longer to pack up with cold hands, so I didn’t get hiking until 8:45am.
It was another beautiful blue sky day, and it warmed up quickly. The climb up to the summit of Standing Indian mountain (5,479ft/1670m) helped.
I didn’t see anyone all morning! I stopped at Carter Gap shelter for lunch, and met a group of 3 section hikers, and a solo thru-hiker.
I signed the shelter log, and saw that there is a large group of hikers about a half day ahead.
The afternoon is nice, and warms up to almost 50F/10C. There are some signs of spring, like these little leafy plants. Not sure what they are.
The trail stays up on a ridge most of the afternoon, with nice views to the east.
There is one more big climb today, up to the summit of Albert Mountain (5213ft/1589m). The trail had been nice and flat most of the day, but now it decided to go UP.
The summit has a firetower that you can climb for a view. I also took a short nap in the room on top!
Most of the forest around here is managed for environmental studies, by the Coweeta hydrologic laboratory. There is a sign to explain its unique long history of protection (since 1934), and elevation range (2200ft to 5200ft) which makes it a good laboratory.
Shortly after the summit, I pass the 100-mile marker! These are always exciting.
The trail today has been really nice and smooth, and I’m enjoying cruising along and not thinking about my feet.
The trail crossed a paved road, at a diagonal angle. So I had about 50ft of pavement walking today, the most so far on this hike, haha. So different from the Te Araroa!
I climbed a small hill and made a final water stop before camping tonight. This stream had a convenient pipe for filling my bottles. This seems to be quite common on the AT.
This was a strange sign.
I got to camp at 7pm, at Panther Gap. There is no one else there, probably because there’s a shelter another 1.5 miles ahead. But I’m tired, and apparently traveled 25+ miles today, even with all the breaks. It has quite a view of the valley to the south!
I made dinner quickly and hurried into my tent, it gets cold fast after sunset. And some animals are howling or crying or something. I wonder what lives in these forests…