Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Start: Hughes Gap/TN 1330 (Cantarroso Farm)
End: Indian Grave Gap / TN 395
Miles: 21.2 (+0.3 for water, +0.8 for going the wrong way at Hughes Gap)
This morning, Mike gave me a 6:30am shuttle up to Hughes Gap, a solid hour out of town. On the way, we stopped at Hardee’s and I got an egg and cheese biscuit. At the Gap, we were hard pressed to figure out which way was NOBO and which was SOBO. We ended up picking wrong, as I discovered 0.4 miles later when I hit a NOBO landmark and had to turn around. As it happens, the SOBO section there is direct compass north. So I was on trail and headed south by 8am. I made amazing time and arrived at my final destination by 4:30pm.
I climbed from Hughes Gap (4040′) up to Little Rock Knob (4918′) where the view were still restricted by clouds and mist that hadn’t cleared at that point. I passed by Clyde Smith shelter (4496′), a campsite (4134′), and Greasy Creek Gap (4034′), before climbing Rock Pillar (4434′). I descended to Iron Mountain Gap/TN 107/NC 226 (3723′) and then climbed to Little Bald Knob (4337′). I passed by Cherry Gap shelter (3988′) and Low Gap (3900′) before climbing Unaka Mountain (5180′). Unaka’s peak was entirely dense evergreen forest; it was beautiful. From there, I descended to a piled spring and USFS 230 (4115′) and then hiked through the Beauty Spot Gap (4323′). The Beauty Spot was amazing – the views were spectacular.
From there, the ~3.5 miles to Indian Grave Gap/TN 395 (3350′) were all downhill and smooth sailing. My ride into town, Peggy, picked me up at 4:45pm, a good 45 minutes before I anticipated being picked up. She graciously dropped me into town and went back to the mountain to go out for a 45 minute hike like she’d originally planned.
Tomorrow, I’m currently planning a ~20 mile day, meeting up with Towanda by Roan High Knob, at Carver Gap, and then hiking the rest of the day together and staying at a hostel for the night. It’ll be a brutal 4 mile climb in the morning but after that, it should be relatively easy!