Yes, today I slackpacked. Slackpacking is when you don’t carry a full pack. Since I only intended to do about 14 miles today, I just carried food, water, jacket, toiletries, and the sleeping bag just to fill out the pack a bit. And I was able to carry fresh food (and a soda) with me today.
Since I did not have too far to go today, we got a lazy start. Breakfast of steak and eggs (fresh steak and fresh eggs) and some OJ we hit the trail at 9am after a quick stop at the convenience store for a Cheerwine soda and chips to go with the two sandwiches I made before we left.
The parking lot was still full at 9am. There was a group of 4 men hikers and a group of two ladies setting off at the same time. The weather was cloudy and cool, but not raining.
This is one of my regular routes, so I knew the terrain well – start out with a medium climb to a small bald, down across the gap to more climbing, and a few more ups and downs until the main climb up to big bald. Intended to get to the top by a little after noon, and leave by 1 so I could make Spivey Gap by 4. There were some sections that were steeper than I remembered, but it has been about 5 years since I had hiked this side of Sams Gap. I hardly drank or ate anything on the climb up in anticipation of my feast on the peak.
I reached the top shortly after noon and it was cloudy and breezy, but not too cold. The clouds were wisping in and out, and the sun would peek its head out for a minute at a time, so I did get some views, but not great ones. There is a gravel road up to the top, and some of the high rollers from Wolf Laurel Ski Resort drove up to the top. It takes the wind out of your sails to know they put no effort whatsoever to get to the top to see the view.
I ate my lunch while the camera took time lapse footage of the clouds – I thought it might come out interesting with all the overhead and low level fog today. Lunch was great – it’s hard to beat a fresh sandwich while hiking. I packed up and left right at 1 as planned and made my way to the next bald. On that bald, they had set some bird traps to catch and tag birds before releasing them again. They had workers manning the traps. I had never seen that before.
I kept on motoring and near the end of the day I hit a spot I remembered, but remembered in a different place – High Rocks. Since the clouds were close again, and I had already set a pickup time, I skipped the short side trail to the top of the rocks this time – I’ll be back again soon.
On the last few miles back to Spivey Gap, I could see fresh trail maintenance had been done on the water bars and drainage ditches. The soil was still soft so I know it was done after the recent rains. The Carolina Mountain Club does frequent maintenance on these trails. Since I hike them so often, I see their changes (always improvements) over time. They have been putting in more water bars and steps to control erosion.
I made it down just before 4 and Karen was already there. I guess I forgot to tell her that the parking area for the trail was actually a quarter mile before the official gap. She had passed it and had to turn around to come back to the trailhead. As I was walking down the trail towards the road, I could actually hear her go past, then come back to the parking area. Good timing again.
So after another shower (two in two days) and a quick trip into town to have dinner at the brewery, it’s more reconfiguring of the gear and planning tomorrow’s slackpack and the following day’s departure. We are waiting on a package to arrive in town Tuesday morning that I will need for the future days supplies.