Day 17: Balds and Burritos

Thursday March 28, 22.8miles/36.7km

Viewpoint N of Sam’s Gap NC (321.5) to Erwin TN (344.3)

I got packed up in the dark (the sun doesn’t rise until 7:30am), and got moving down the trail at 7 am.

My goal was to start early, to cover the 23 miles to town today by 5pm. The hostel has a free shuttle to downtown at 5pm, and it goes to a Mexican restaurant… burritos and margaritas!

The first climb was up Big Bald (5500ft/1676m), with 30-degree views. It was very windy and cold, so I only got a few photos.

Looking north to the next mountain, Big Stamp…

And the view from Big Stamp, looking back at Big Bald…there was still a tiny bit of snow on the north side!

The rest of the day, the trail was in the trees. And after it descended 2000ft/600m, it was much warmer too.

There was a small viewpoint called High Rock. I had seen any people yet today, so I talked to the viewpoint… “Hi rock!” (In New Zealand we always said “Hi Cows!” when there were no people to talk to)

I had an early lunch there, then continued on to “No Business” shelter and had 2nd lunch at 1pm. Cool name for a shelter!

The trail was nicely graded, and weaved around the hillsides rather than straight up and down them.

As I got lower in elevation, the ground turned green.

There were some nice views of the Nolichucky River on the way downhill to town.

I arrived at the hostel at 3:30pm, checked in to a bunk, showered, and was ready to go for the 5pm shuttle to downtown.

A couple of other hikers were in the shuttle too, so the 4 of us (Fast Eddie, Skins, Marie, me) went to Jalapeños, the Mexican restaurant option. Afterwards, we walked to the Walmart for a grocery resupply, and were ready by 7pm for the shuttle ride back to the hostel. Long day!

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