A.T. Brown Gap to Davenport Gap – a snowy day

Browngapdavenportgap snow - 2013

It has taken me almost a week to finally write about my Appalachian Trail hike from Brown Gap to Davenport Gap (13 miles, 3,500 feet ascent).

On Monday, we did the second hike for the Carolina Mountain Club  A.T. 90 in 90 challenge. Lenny and I had made plans with Tish and Sawako and we were going.

Browngapdavenportgap-Lennyandme 2013Yes, it was cold but dry here. We met Tish and left a car at Davenport Gap just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We drove to Brown Gap and started the hike at over 3,600 feet. The whole scene from the ground to the trees was in snow. Pretty, but not comfortable if you’re going to spend the whole day on the trail. But how could I complain when I was there for a day hike and thru-hikers had slept on the trail?

I was cold. I was cold from the time I stepped out of the car until the time I got back into the car. We had few stops. And the ones we did have were uncomfortable and awkward. I took off my gloves, put more clothes on, pulled out my snack and the rest of the group had already eaten, packed up and were waiting for me impatiently.

Browngapdavenportgap-groundhogcreekshelter 2013Lunch was at Ground Hog Creek Shelter. We met a young couple still in their sleeping bags. They weren’t moving.The picture to the left is of the moldering privy for the shelter.

I asked everyone I met, at least those that stopped long enough to talk, how and where they got their Smokies shelter permit. Most had gotten them at home before they left for the trail. They found it easy and no big deal. Twenty dollars to stay in the shelters was not excessive.

A couple of hikers didn’t realize that they needed a permit until they got to NOC. They were able to use the computer there. And again no big deal. A small group of locals, who want to stay anonymous, are suing the park over the backpacking fee but hikers from the rest of the country didn’t seem to get excited over the fee. Of course, this is a small and throroughly unscientific survey which I will continue whenever  I meet hikers who’ve come out of the Smokies.

Once, we went under I-40 and started up again, it got a little warmer. I saw my first spring flowers: a couple of blood root, star chickweed and closed trilliums.

We reached Davenport Gap at about 5:30 pm and went to pick up the first car at Brown Gap. The road up to Brown Gap was covered with snow and so was the car. We came down awfully slowly and finally made it home at 7:30 pm.

I caught a whopper of a cold, or maybe the flu, and I still have some of the effects.


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