Mile 1835.2 (TN): May 8, Ash Gap to North of Unaka Mountain

It was another perfect hiking day and I wondered when the other shoe would drop. How many of these in a row could we have?

The hike today was mostly downhill and would be shorter mileage. I planned to reach Erwin, Tennessee tomorrow afternoon and didn’t need to push very hard today or tomorrow to do so. I took my time and enjoyed the day, talking to a few of the many hikers I passed along the way.

Juggernaut from Massachusetts had an orange 2018 thru-hike tag, like mine, and was back out this year

Well into the afternoon a group told me there was a guy “giving out snacks” at the road below, about a mile away. Sure enough, I saw a van and a small group of NOBOs hanging around. 

I had seen this van before somewhere online—“The AT Friendly Van” with an image of Casper. The owner, Rob Bird, is a long time provider of trail magic in this area. I took some snacks and sat in the van with him for a while. He mentioned he moved from Dalton, Massachusetts to Unicoi, Tennessee in 2012. He had operated a hiker hostel from his home in Massachusetts for many years. Now he shuttles hikers around in Tennessee and comes out for trail magic in the area. 

The snacks were a good high-energy way to finish the final climb of the day. Like yesterday, rain clouds moved in late in the day and sprinkled a bit as I walked the last couple hours.

But I got everything set up and had dinner finished before 6pm. The extra time in camp was welcome and I was glad that this high tentsite had phone service for me. I took care of my trail notes for the past two days and got them, including this post, uploaded from the comfort of my hammock. Four lady hikers arrived after me and set up tents nearby. We said hello but were all tired and busy with our own tasks for the night. 

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