Okay, the road to Deep Gap is still closed - they won't open it until about April 1st. This means I have to wait to hike two sections of trail that are next in my progression southward - the southernmost 18 miles of North Carolina. You see, Deep Gap is about eight miles north of the Georgia/NC border.
So I relocated today (Friday March 23rd). I moved south into Georgia to the next road access point, which is at Dicks Creek Gap (on the highway to Hiawassee). Because I was late getting there after relocating, and because there was a lot of rain around, I only did one leg of the two planned from that trailhead. I didn't hike north back toward Deep Gap today. Instead I hiked south to Deep Gap and back. You see, Deep Gap is about 12.5 miles south of the Georgia/NC border. There's a shelter there, about 0.3 miles down on a side slope.
No, wait. Deep Gap is between Mt. Rogers and Elk Garden in Southwest Virginia. It's a sensitive flat area where they've banned camping due to resource damage. I remember reading the signs.
No, wait. Deep Gap is near Beauty Spot on the TN/NC border. It seemed strange because it was a pretty shallow gap.
No, wait. Deep Gap is the next gap south from Allen Gap, just 12.7 miles north of Hot Springs NC.
No, wait. Deep Gap is between Max Patch and Snowbird Mountain. There's a shelter there beside a creek about a tenth of a mile down an old woods road.
"Okay, funny pants ... Cant get your story straight? Tell me the name of the shelter at Deep Gap?"
It's Deep Gap Shelter, of course ... duhhhhhhh! Didn't you read what I wrote above? I was just there today. There's a sign right over the shelter entrance with a real official looking USFS shield on one side and an AT diamond shaped logo on the other. And in the middle it says ... "Deep Gap Shelter". You wanna see my photo?
No wait. It's called Groundhog Creek Shelter. I was there on March 6th. I distinctly remember it.
"Are you serious? What are you smoking? They removed the shelter at Deep Gap due to overuse and abuse, and it now sits in the Town Park in Damascus, VA. Everybody knows that."
Enough fooling around. Yes, all of the above statements are true. 'Deep Gap" is the "Mr. Smith" of the gap world. Today I did hike to the one that has a Shelter named after it. I tried to hike through a short 'window' between rounds of tropical downpours. I didn't quite make it - it was pouring rain when I got back.
There was one vista point - on Powell Mountain. I even took the new blue-blazed side trail (not mentioned in the guide book) about 0.1 mile east to check it out. But of course I could only see a vague outline of the next ridge through the mist and fog. Hiker count was pretty high again, given that I only was on the trail for a few hours. Notable among those I passed were the Rainwaters - all four headed to Maine as a family. Fresh news from them is that Forest has acquired his trail name: 'beats'. I'll let them report the story behind that. They were headed to Hiawassee for a couple of days off the trail.
Otherwise there really isn't much to show for my seven miles of hiking, except damp clothes.
Weather looks a little better for tomorrow. So I'll hike toward Deep Gap.
Here's a map of the hike and a link to more photos:
AT Day 79 - Dicks Creek Gap to Deep Gap at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best hikes in California and beyond
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