Friday, November 18, 2011
Alex and I went for a backpacking trip during my time off the bike. We wanted a tough hike but something semi-close by. Pisgah it was. The weekend before I had raced the Double Darefor two days up there. It would be kinda cool to see some of the trails I rode by foot. Having hiked everything on the Waynesville side of the parkway on previous trips we decided to change it up and leave from the Fish Hatchery this time. We would be heading up over John Rock to Cat Gap and the Art Loeb trail where we would head toward Butter Gap for the night. We made quick work of John Rock ( wishing I'd done the 2 checkpoint bonus hike up there in the Double Dare!) and were eating a snack on the back side of Cedar Rock in no time. With about an hour of so of good light left we headed up the trail to Butter Gap Shelter for the night. I have been through Butter Gap many times on the bike but never dropped over the ridge to the shelter. What a great campsite! Flattish, close to water, a permanent bear cable with pulleys and haul lines, and a killer view of Cedar Rock. We caught the last rays of the sun high above us on the rock. The shelter is in need of work with over 1/2 of it rotting away, and the cold wind was blowing straight into the open front. The decision was soon made to break out the tents instead of sleeping there. After setting up camp and cooking dinner of Raemen Noodles and Vegetable Beef stew, we set to getting a fire going. I like hiking during the winter as you don't get as sweaty as the summer. However, you need to carry more gear to stay warm and the 12-13 hr long nights are a bummer. During summer you can hike till 9 PM, eat, then go right to bed. Wintertime requires finding something to do for the hrs between dusk and bedtime. Hence, a good fire was necessary tonight! Problem was- it had rained very heavily the night before and all that morning. Everything was still damp. It took awhile and all my skills(and a fortunate wind) but soon we had a rather smoky fire going. An hour later after drying wood near the fire, we had a roaring fire going. Hanging by the fire and burning anything dry that could be found brought us to bedtime surprisingly quick. After letting the fire die out, we headed of to our tents under an extremely bright moon.
Day 2 next time!