Friday March 29, 17.0miles/27.4km
Erwin TN (344.3) to Cherry Gap shelter TN (361.3)
I slept in at the hostel, it was a nice warm night with the woodstove nearby. There is a morning shuttle to downtown, I didn’t need anything, but I went anyway for one last meal in town.
After taking down a “Bo’s Box” (meal with many fried things and over 1000 calories), I went next door to Pals, a local chain for grill food.
Eventually, the shuttle came back and got me, after it was delayed for 45 minutes. I got packed up, and finally left the hostel at 11:45am. Uncle Johnny’s was a good place to rest for the night, and very relaxed vibe.
The hiking today was easy, but almost all of it was a gradual uphill. After the first 1000ft/300m of climbing, I came across this old house foundation. Strange.
A couple of miles later, the trail crosses a paved road, and a generous local man, Brother Tom, was hosting a trail magic! His dog Moses sat and watched/drooled as a bunch of hikers ate lots of food.
I hung out there for almost an hour with another hiker, Mowgli, and his dad. I said my goodbyes, as I still had 9 miles/ 3.5 hours to go until the shelter. The climb up to Beauty Spot was easy, and it had good views at the top.
While I was passing through, I watched a local couple get engaged. I was so surprised, I forgot to take any photos until they were walking away. The couple are the nicely dressed people in pink.
The next, and final, climb for the day was up to Unaka Mountain (5184ft/1580m). It’s not a Bald summit, so there were no expansive views. But the pine forest was so green and soft, and my favorite forest on the AT so far! It reminds me of the PCT in Northern Oregon.
A couple miles before the shelter, I caught Shine and Puff, sisters from North Carolina. We had a fun conversation and arrived at the shelter at 7pm. After my usual dinner of a knorrs pasta side, tuna, and kool-aid,… time for bed!