Friday, March 1, 2024
Home Backpacking Day 14 on The Appalachian Trail

Day 14 on The Appalachian Trail

by Staff

Night hiking back to the trail, Albert Mountain, and Trail Magic

After my last post I took a flight back from Montana into Asheville where Chuck Allen was waiting to deposit me directly onto the trail.

I’m posting a picture of the view from my house looking toward the Bob Marshall wilderness. The Rocky Mountain front is what welcomes me every morning. While the Continental Divide Trail is only 90 minutes from the house, the AT comes first. The grizzlies can wait.

Having been dropped off near Standing Indian Campground I proceeded down Forest Service Road 67. Across the causeway to ensure my feet were wet for the next 7 miles.

 

Into the darkness I walked with the occasional sounds of running or rushing water for company. Not much ambient light during the hike so I gathered my thoughts about my next day back on the trail. I knew I was near my stopping place for the night when walking past Mooney Falls. The roar of the falls engulfed all other sound and there is something awe inspiring about the force of water. Something about time and pressure to smooth the rocks in its path.

I pitched my tent near Betty Creek Gap and settled in for a restless night. With less than a mile to walk to Mooney Gap I had difficulty sleeping. Partially because I had to keep climbing up my pad to my pillow. Angle and location…note to self.

Day 14 Mooney Gap to Winding Stair Gap

Today would be the day! I packed up before daylight with the hopes of being on top of Albert Mountain after sunrise. An uneventful one mile walk to the water source past Mooney Gap and I made my way slowly as there was no need to rush to the ascent that awaited me past Bear Pen Gap.

The trail touches the road at Bear Pen Gap and I sat and had a protein bar, a liter of water and electrolytes, and a small handful of energy gels while watching the morning light grow. It is time.

The combination of steep steps, roots and rocks, and footholds cut into the rocks were the welcome mat to Albert Mountain and I listened to the Sirtaki (Zorba’s Dance) several times during the climb. The ground flattened out and a little winding through the foliage brought me to the fire tower and the rock promontory overlooking a magnificent view.

Nature was kind and allowed me clear skies and a view I’ve waited to see for many years. I took pictures and video as words and emotions did not mix in those moments.

I made a reel of the climb and you can find it on the social media sites linked to my author page. Onward. I made my way to Long Branch Shelter for a lunch of oatmeal and a candy bar. The stream close bu is easy access for water. A nap was needed and taken. Still a ways to go if I were going to make it to Winding Stair Gap. Perhaps I slept longer than thought.

At Rock Gap I was met by “Chillbilly” and my first trail magic of bottled water, an orange, and a pastry. He walked up the trail with me for a little bit and he and his dog turned around to be there for other hikers. The sun was setting as I hiked down towards Winding Stair Gap. I put on my headlamp for the last half mile and it decided to malfunction. Yup, I lost the trail in the darkness and made my way down by going towards the car lights. There was a little bit of backside sliding involved. It’s a good feeling standing in the parking lot knowing a pizza and orange soda were in my immediate future. A tiring and joyful day.

Final Thoughts

As posed by someone, the trail name Boomerang” seems most appropriate as the trail threw me out twice and I return to the same place.

Be kind. Every person you meet
is fighting a difficult battle.

Plato

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