Day 30 – Friday, April 8: Jerry Cabin Shelter to Devil Fork Gap (Erwin, TN), 8.8 miles, 308.9 total AT miles.

I woke up at 7:00 and gathered the courage to emerge from my tent fifteen minutes later. It was cold, but the skies were clearing – the sun was starting to peek through. It only took an hour to pack up and hit the trail.

As I gained elevation leaving Jerry Cabin – the weather was for the first few miles. I even stopped to zip my legs off and put my puffy coat away. Things were looking good. The trail and surrounding landscape were still covered in the frozen precipitation (mini snowballs) from the night prior.

  
As I summited Big Butt Mountain, the temperature noticeably dropped. The sky, once clearing, was now clouding over. The wind was picking up again. I quickly suited back up and hiked on.

 

The summit of Big Butt Mountain.

I kept up with Medicine Man for most of the day. About an hour later, I took a brief privy stop at the Flint Mountain Shelter before pressing on. It was 10:45 and I had already covered 6 miles – I was moving well today.

Medicine Man and I pushed hard and found Moon Boots at Devil’s Fork Gap. He was concerned. He heard from another hiker that Savage was having chest pains and needed to call her doctor. As luck would have it, she emerged from the woods just as a shuttle pulled into the parking lot.

 

Lunch at Devil’s Fork Gap before heading into Erwin, TN.
 
I rode with her into town. I was down to one day of food and still a day and a half from physically hiking into Erwin, TN. While I was sure Savage would be staying the night, I hadn’t made up my mind about what I would do – the weather forecast helped me decide.

I had been hiking and camping in driving rain and freezing temps for two days – and tonight and tomorrow was going to get worse. The forecast is calling for snow and rain in the mountains with another high wind advisory. Apparently the polar vortex had descended accounting for the severe drop in temps.

The shuttle dropped Savage and I at the Super 8 – she called her doctor and I waited for the rest of our group to arrive. When the gang reassembled, we were all on the same page. We booked two rooms, deciding to wait the storm out and potentially start fresh tomorrow.

I plugged in my battery and camera and headed to Hawg n Dawg for a quick lunch. Clutch and I decided to head to the Food Lion for a full resupply – my first trip to a REAL grocery store in over two weeks.

During the walk home, the skies opened up and I got hit with freezing rain. I made it back to the Super 8 drenched and cold. I spent the evening chatting with family and organizing my resupply before heading to bed.

Tomorrow doesn’t look promising. I don’t want to stay in Erwin, but after the last few days, I’m don’t want to start hiking in more high winds and freezing temps. The forecast for tomorrow doesn’t look good – apparently the low will be in the 20s with more high winds.

It’s tough. I haven’t made much progress since leaving Hot Springs. But I’ve got four plus months to go and will have plenty of opportunities to make up for lost time. I’ve never been good with patience. Or acknowledging when something is truly out of my control.

Having resupplied, if I decide to stay another night to avoid the weather, I’ll spend my time tomorrow contacting gear manufacturers, specifically REI, and try to get a new tent shipped to me. My Dash 2 still doesn’t leak, but the rainfly is battered – broken zipper on one side and a gnarly tear on the other. I’m hoping they can send a replacement to me in Damascus, VA.

Savage is doing okay. She thought her chest pains might be related to a heart condition she’s dealt with her whole life. Thankfully, her doctor believes it’s a muscle sprain near her ribs. She’s on an ibuprofen regimen and seems to be doing fine.

Note: I will be staying another night – a shuttle driver just dropped off some hikers at the hotel as I was having a pizza delivered. The weather will hover above freezing all day before plunging into the teens at night.

Breakfast: one strawberry Pop-tart

Snack: the last of my nut mix, handful of prunes

Lunch: three beef jerky tortilla wraps

Lunch #2: half rib dinner with baked beans and macaroni and cheese: Hawg n Dawg $13.99 plus $4.01 tip.

Dinner: small chicken pizza with 12 wings: Primo $28.89 plus $5.11 tip.

Money:

Food Lion: six day resupply – $105.60

Walgreens: beef jerky sale – $21.41

Super 8: $25.00

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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