Rim of the Gap Part 2

The morning heated up unusually fast and our water supply dwindled even faster. We’d filled our bottles and brought 3 bottled waters apiece but were still running out. If we keep this up a water filter/ pump is going to become a necessity. You just can’t carry enough water for even a 5 mile hike. According to our map the trail ahead would descend for 200 feet in about a mile then ascend 400 feet in the remaining mile. It looked nothing like the map. We were constantly climbing up steep trails, only to carefully pick our way down root covered hills, only to begin yet another climb, sometimes up rustic ladders or via cables. It was a lot of fun. Exhausting but fun. Every now and then we’d get a peek out across the valley and the views were almost dizzying. In places there were breaks in the trees and you could look out over sheer drops of what must’ve been several hundred feet which led to other even greater drops. We were at least 2,400 feet above sea level and it felt like it. In several places the spongy trail gave way and scared the poop out of me. At one point I stepped on a really big rock that, seemingly defied the laws of physics and rocked up into the air, throwing me off balance about 4′ from a 100′ drop. That was a trip. Oh, I almost forgot, the trail leads right through a boulder where we had to take off our packs and slide through an opening. Check out the pics.
The effects of the drought are pretty apparent because we encountered several places that looked like they were once waterfalls of some degree but were now dry. We did cross in one place where I could dip my hat in a pool. That was de-licious.
By this time I’d decided that doing a flip-flop (A flip-flop is when you reach the end of the trail and then turn around to hike back to it’s start) was out of the question. Whether it was due to sleep deprivation or just the fact that we’re wimps, we were toast. The map showed a connector trail called Frank Coggins that led from the end of Rim of the Gap to Caesars Head Visitor’s Center. It was 1 mile and was rated as “easy.” Easy I could do. It was the most anti-climatic end to a hike we’d done to date. It left us at the intersection of 3 trails with no fanfare or hoopla of any sort. On that note we set to our mile walk up Frank Coggins. When we arrived at the Visitor’s Center we were greeted by two friendly faces. One belonged to a girl who was working with Elliot the night before and she recognized us. (While I was whining about biting off more than we could chew she informed us she just completed a 22 mile hike. Yeah, thanks.) The second belonged to Adam, with whom I inquired about a shuttle back to Jones Gap. After discussing it with some mystery person in a back room, Adam came out and happily said, “I’ll take you.” He declined my grateful offer to “kiss him full on the mouth,” (I’m not sure why) led us to his chariot (a white station wagon) and gave us a most appreciated ride back down the mountain. It was here that I realized just how aromatic we’d become. I apologized repeatedly. Having done a half-thru hike of the AT,Adam was well aware of the effects hiking could have on body scent. He re-assured us we were fine. I think he probably torched the wagon when he got back. Adam, whose trail name was “Thieving Bear,” (Ask him when you see him) was a great guy and we really enjoyed hearing some of his story. We discovered a common passion for hiking and trout-fishing and I think there was a lot more to Adam than a 1/2 hour shuttle gave us time to explore. I hope to run into him again soon.
Jo and I threw our packs into the truck and made our way down the mountain. We stopped at a gas station and once again the hiking monster took over my appetite, destroyed my will-power and drove me to the deli-counter where I was compelled to order fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and fried okra. It’s a bit of a blur. In the midst of my feeding frenzy I have vague memories of giant ostriches, ducks and a wobbling death-metal goat but it might’ve just been the food induced stupor I was in. You’ll have to ask Jo.
We arrived blissfully home thanking our God for making our way, an awesome hike, a shuttle ride, great new friends, fried chicken, okra and mac and cheese and sleep. Dana walked in the door hours later, back from her trip with our old friend Lisa to see Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick. That’s her story to tell.

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