Today was fantastic! First it was warm enough to be in short sleeves before we even left the shelter. Then we were out of the park within a mile so no more camping rules. We had heard a rumor there’d be trail magic at that gap from 9-3 so we had made sure not to leave the shelter until 9 just in case they were running late. There was nothing going on at the gap but we waited a little bit any way then Stretch and I moved on, leaving Lucky1, Floater, and Gi hoping for magic.
We walked along a rushing stream and waterfalls for a while, crossing several times, and seeing a bunch of great campsites. My foot slipped on one crossing so soaked shoe and socks first thing. When we came out to the Pigeon River and were crossing it, I saw a shallow, calm area of the water below and decided to go swimming and wash off some sweat. The water was a little too cold and the area too shallow to get all the way in but it was nice to clean off. Of course, putting back on sweaty, smelly clothes erases that feeling. Other hikers we camped with last night walked by overhead but were not interested in the cold water.
There was a camper parked at the river too with hikers SoWay, Onesimus, and his dog Spencer hanging out. They gave us cold, delicious grapefruits to eat. They were getting ready to head to town for a resupply and invited us along. Just then another car pulled in, asking if we were hikers and wanted some trail magic. It was 70%, a thru hiker from last year driving by on his way to work. He had Sprites, cookies, candied mango, turkey/bacon/hummus/sweet pepper sandwiches, and more. After hanging out for a while, he had to get going and then rest of us went to town. I didn’t need a resupply but I got pizza, ice cream, and candy to add to my lunch. Thanks, guys!
We finally got back on the trail after the almost three hour detour and headed up Snowbird Mountain. There was a grassy bald at the top and we thought there’d be an observation tower but it turned out to be a UFO-looking government building/area with “no trespassing” signs all over it. We were making good time though, which was nice since we were still planning on going the originally planned 13.4 miles.
When we were about 2 miles out, it started getting really windy and sprinkling lightly so we sped up, trying to outrun the rain. We zoomed past Saint Nick and a couple other hikers putting on their rain gear but I wasn’t ready to give in to the rain gear yet. I was in front and when I paused for a drink, I saw something on the hill ahead moving. It was a baby black bear! It looked like it was right on the trail too. I lost track of it behind some trees and I couldn’t see the mama bear so I waited for the other hikers to catch up to me, so we could all go by as a big, loud group. We didn’t see any sign of the bear again.
The rain had stopped and we arrived at Brown Gap a little after 6 but didn’t see anyone else camped there. We didn’t like the campsites next to the open Forest Service road so Stretch and Saint Nick and I hiked up a side trail a bit to find a better spot. I was wary of the rain starting again so I set up my tent quickly, got the bear bag line ready, and ate a dry dinner. It did start sprinkling lightly again on and off but everyone was able to get in their tents without getting wet.
No bear picture, sorry!