AT 2017: Day 26, Hogback Ridge Shelter to Sam's Gap

Might as well, might as well

Shuttle to Erwin

I've mentioned before a saying often used by hikers, "The trail provides." The expression refers to the uncanny way in which we are given help just at the moment we need it.

That saying was proven true again today, though in this case I didn't even know at first I needed help.

DateSaturday, May 6, 2017
WeatherFreezing rain overnight, then cloudy, breezy and chilly
Trail ConditionsWet and muddy
Today's Miles2.3
Trip Miles318.1

Rain continued off and on overnight, and as the temperature dropped it became freezing rain. Fortunately, the rain stopped just before dawn.

There was a large area around Hogback Ridge Shelter for tents and it was heavily used. Because of the rain, this area was now mostly mud.

This was not a fun morning for packing up and getting back on the trail. The worst part was putting on clothes that were still soaked from yesterday's rain, and were now cold from near-freezing temperatures.

Trail from Hogback Ridge Shelter

Much of the trail for the last few days has hugged the state line. That was again the case today, though as usual it was impossible to tell for sure when it crossed into Tennessee and when it was in North Carolina.

After a minor climb to a spot called High Rock, the trail began a 700-foot descent to Sam's Gap.

Moye Family monument

Part of the way down, the trail passed a large granite marker. The annoyance I felt yesterday seeing a small marker for a deceased hiker was nothing compared to seeing this.

It was surprising to see in the middle of the forest such a large, self-congratulatory monument erected by the family who donated the surrounding land.

I suspected when I saw it, and later confirmed, that the placement of the marker was a condition of the donation.

Sam's Gap

Interstate 26 goes through Sam's Gap. Nearing the highway I could see some activity on the other side of the underpass. Was it trail magic?

Trail magic

Yes, it was!

It was excellent trail magic, with lots of hot food. Spread out on a couple tables were pancakes, chili dogs, chips and other snacks, coffee and other beverages.

As I chatted with the trail magic hosts I learned the forecast for tonight was not looking good. More rain and dropping temperatures were predicted. Up to a couple inches of snow were expected in higher elevations by late evening. This news was not the kind of incentive I needed to get back to hiking.

After enjoying a bit more food, I finally decided to suck it up and put my pack back on. As I was reaching for it, another hiker turned to me and said, "I just called a shuttle to take us into Erwin. Want to join us?"

It took me less than two seconds to consider my options and say yes. Ten minutes later three other hikers and I were squeezed into a subcompact car and headed to Erwin.

On the way, I said to the group, "I don't know any of you yet. I'm Gravity." I learned I was traveling with Skittles (she had called the shuttle) and Jeff, who were hiking as a couple, and Tentpole.

After the introductions, Tentpole turned to me and said, "Do you want to share a room?"

"Sure!" I answered.

And such is the way of the Appalachian Trail. Within minutes of meeting complete strangers you are friends and sharing motel rooms.

Our shuttle driver, Marie Bradford, took us to the Super 8 Motel.

View from the Super 8 in Erwin

The view from the motel wasn't exactly a sweeping panorama of nearby mountains, but it certainly beat the accommodations I would have had otherwise.

After doing my laundry and just hanging out to rest, it was time to get some dinner and resupply for the next few days.

The motel wasn't near any good options, so I had to walk a couple miles. I decided upon a Mexican restaurant. On the way to it I saw Bluestem, Uncle Puck, Wahoo and a hiker I had not met before named White Beard. They were exiting a Chinese restaurant, so I chatted with them a bit.

I had not seen these guys since Franklin, N.C. Though I had taken eight days off after finishing the Smokies, they were now only one day ahead of me. They had gotten off the trail where the trail is closer to Erwin than where I exited today.

After dinner I stopped at a Food Lion grocery store, then went back to the motel.

The day turned out nothing like I anticipated it would be, but I wasn't complaining.

One long party from front to end
Tune to the whistle going round the bend
No big hurry, what do you say
Might as well travel the elegant way

Might as well, might as well
(Might as well, might as well)
Might as well, might as well
(Might as well, might as well)
Might as well, might as well
(Might as well, might as well)
Might as well, might as well
(Might as well, might as well)


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.