Sassafras Gap Shelter to Wine Spring Camp, 26.2 mi (AT 2074.4)

May 20th, North Carolina

The birds woke me up as it was getting light this morning, right around 6am. This has been a fairly reliable alarm: enthusiastic bird sounds and early morning light.

I had a 6-mile hike down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for resupply before continuing on for the next several days. 

The trail downhill was awash in blooming mountain laurel. Amazing!

 I arrived to the NOC just after 9am. The trail crossed a bridge right in the middle of the complex. Unfortunately, the restaurants didn’t open until 11am so I just went to the General Store where I charged my phone and organized myself for the next several days. There was a limited supply of things I wanted, but I made do with what they had. I also bought a couple things to eat right away so I could start again on a full stomach.

It was a nice afternoon and the trail ascended to a series of “balds,” most of which were bald in name only. The final one, Wayah Bald, had a beautiful stone lookout tower with views in every direction. 

After a couple more miles I arrived to a nice little tentsite with spring. Again, I was the only one there. The bulk of the northbound hikers are well past me now. I still see a few per day, plus section hikers, but nothing like several weeks ago where dozens of NOBO thru hikers crossed paths with me daily. It seems I’m back to a fairly quiet hike. 

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