7th May

21 miles

Beauty Spot Gap (354.5) to Ash Gap (375.5)

I’m not sure how long the rain and snow continued last night, I slept like the dead. It was cold, well below freezing. When I started hiking I was wearing every layer of clothing I had. My hands were tucked away inside the pockets of my puffy down jacket. Why did I get rid of my gloves!!!!

The climb to the top of Unaka Mountain was surreal. Everything in nature conspired to make it a photographers paradise. The light, the cloud, the snow and the scenery was the best I’ve seen on the trail to date. If the amount of photos I take is representative of how much I liked the trail then I liked it x80. Sorry, I’m only putting a couple of photos on the blog.

In the midst of the snow covered summit there were icicles hanging from anywhere and everywhere. I love extremes of weather. Many years ago I lived and worked in Canada in northern Saskatchewan. I endured the winter that had temperatures as low as -45, with the wind chill it was -63C. Despite hating the cold I loved the experience of such a brutally cold temperature, oh Lloydminster I hope I never visit you again.

When I was at the summit there was another hiker enjoying the serenity. He mentioned that he was a model railway enthusiast and he modelled the landscape on these mountains. Apparently an old railway line ran through these mountains somewhere. He was out enjoying the place at his own pace, taking it all in.

After cresting the mountain I put my head down and made a few miles. It wasn’t until 11.30am when I took off my down jacket. It remained cold all day which had me eating much more than normal.

As the afternoon wore on I contemplated where I might camp. Initially I wanted to camp at the highest shelter on the Appalachian Trail. At 6249ft, Roan High Knob Shelter was my goal, but the afternoon grew very cold very quickly. A couple of miles short of my goal I found a sheltered site at Ash Gap. At 5300ft it should be warmer and there were some nice campsites. As the evening progressed several other hikers appeared, mostly faces I’d never seen before.

8 Responses

  1. Bob

    Oh BRRRRRR, it looks really bone chilling cold with the dampness. How do you take the pictures of yourself on the trail??? you have a tripod and remote release???? The photos are great. I thought I was cold in Palm Springs at 66 degrees, LOL, looking at you on the trail makes me shiver…. Take good care.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I set the camera on the ground or on a log, sometimes there is another hiker nearby. Glad you like the photos

  2. Anne

    Oh wow, man, I am happy you are on the trail and not me, hihihi 😉 I am grateful that you are sharing also the hard bits and not only the ‘rainbows and unicorns’. Very nice posts, thanks and cheers from a much warmer Stavanger (errr, at least for now)… 🙂

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Plenty of rainbows and unicorns on trail too. 🙂

  3. Kelly Hikes

    I love the snow. I would rather hike a week in the snow than a day in rain anytime, anywhere. Love your action shots. Did you get a new Canon ? I used my iPhone for most my pics but it would freeze in such cold temps. Question….cost wise, is hiking the AT twice as expensive as the PCT and CDT? It seems with all the town stops, you would be spending much more. Or does it balance out? Just wondering for saving $$$ if I should double my poor man budget.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I’m still using the same Canon G16 camera. As for cost I would say the AT is the cheapest of the trails, more budget accommodation and cheaper grocery stores. I also benefit from the hiking food that inexperienced hikers leave behind in hiker boxes for any hiker to take for free. I expect to spend half as much as I did in the CDT (the most expensive trail) and less than the PCT. I expect less than $1000 per month for all expenses. I am not lingering in towns spending $100 per day on alcohol like some of the younger hikers.

  4. Anna

    Great photos! So very different from my weekend hike in good old Perth (29c in may! Felt like summer!)

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I do crave the heat, it is coming I’m told

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