END Day 5

View from Baker Mt.
This was our last camp of the trip and we broke it like pros, after a good breakfast. Just before we put our packs on to leave a young man walked into our camp (which was right in the middle of the trial).  He said he wanted to wait for his friend to catch up.  HE was about 1/2 a mile behind.  He told us his friend had hurt his foot.  He also told us that he had spoken to a man who had seen a big black bear at Woody Gap the afternoon before!! WOW...

We chatted a while then headed up Baker Mt.  It was tough to have to climb first thing in the morning, but there was no other choice.  We came upon 2 men who were clearing downed trees off the trail.  They had cross cut saws, axes, and other tools.  We had to cross over the tree they were working on.  IT was a big one and it was no easy chore getting over it.  They were very nice and said we looked like seasoned hikers!!
I believe thy meant we smelled like seasoned hikers. HA

I had put on my cleanest dirty shirt for the occasion and the sisters had done likewise.  We really smelled Rank!  I was wearing my newly smoked underwear, which had finally dried.  It was not long before the 2 young men passed us.  The leader was still way in front of his friend, who was obviously in pain. I felt sorry for him, but he was an adult and able to take care of himself. 

At the top of Baker Mt. at 3, 478 ft, we rested on a rocky outcrop.  It had a great view. I was leading fast this day, I guess I was eager to get Blood Mt. over with. In a flat area known as Burnett Field Mt. we met an older couple.  We had stopped at a spring to make water.  They had a contour map of the area and showed us a blue blazed trail which was a ridge trail for Blood Mt. It went around the summit instead over it.  I decided right then and there that I would take this trail!! The other 2 sisters were not decided about it.

Blood Mt. Wilderness Area
We walked through Jarrard Gap and the older couple passed us.  When we arrived at Bird Gap (3,650) we stopped to rest and talk.  Marsha had not decided whether she was going for the summit or the ridge trial.  Emma had made up her mind to go for it, she said she wanted no regrets.  I knew that I would have regrets the way my feet were cramping.  So we made the decision to split up, of course in hindsight I realize this could have been a terrible mistake.  We should never have split up.  It seemed harmless, but when I got down on that trail by myself I felt totally alone.
Marsha @ Slaugher Creek where we split up

So the sisters stayed on the AT and I took the blue Blaze trail to the right.  We split our remaining water and Emma and I switched cameras, and we left each other.  The Blue trail was 1.8 miles around the south ridge of Blood Mt.  It was 1.6 miles to the summit of Blood Mt.  The sisters had estimated that it would take them 4 hrs to get over it and meet me in  Neels gap. The plan was to meet there after I had gone for the car & the cabins etc.

As I walked I estimated in my mind that it would not take them as long as they had thought, for it was taking me 2 hrs to get around, because of the rough going on this trail.  There were lots of huge boulders to cross, and lots of downed trees also.  I stopped once to get my full water bottle out and to get the camera out of my pack. I took a picture of myself.  I became afraid that I would meet a bear when I kept seeing dead trees which had the mark of bear on them.  There were lots of caves under the huge rocks where bear cold hide. 

I eased up on these rocks and peeked around them before proceeding.  I was thinking that I'd rather be with the Sisters, aching feet or not.  I was concerned also Becca's I had taken both matches, and the lighter with me, and I knew they had no ready to eat food.  I had given them my last 2 Kudos bars when we split!!

We split up at 12:20 and I estimated it took me 2 - 2.5 hrs to get around the ridge trail (I had no watch).  When I came back to the junction of the AT-white blaze trail at Flatrock Gap (3,452) I decided to wait for them on top of a great flat rock!  I got our my last beef sticks, and Oreo cookies and had my lunch. While I waited, a couple came past headed up to Blood Mt.  I told them if they saw the Sisters coming down to tell them I was waiting on the rock.  They said they would, so I waited. As I waited I saw something sitting on the trail about 50 ft away. I got my bino's out and looked.  I couldn't believe it, I was looking at a beautiful BOBCAT!  It had pointed ear tufts and a pink tongue hanging out, panting.  It looked at me, then got up and turned and walked up the trail.

After a while I heard what sounded like kittens crying. I decided to investigate, hoping to see Bobcat kittens. I went up the trail toward the sound, but it suddenly stopped. I guess they saw me, but I never saw them.

Back on the rock I could hear the Sisters talking long before they came into view. When I saw Marsha step onto the trail, I was a happy camper!!! She seemed glad and surprised to see me too.

I told them I had decided to wait and finish the trail with them. It was really the only thing to do. I had waited only about an hour and I was dry and rested. We rested a little while longer and then headed for Neels Gap and the end of our long journey.

Em at the Blood Mt. Shelter
They told me about a book in the Blood Mt. Shelter where people had written their thoughts. I asked if they had seen an entry from the trio? No! They were supposed to spend the night on Blood Mt. on Friday, and we wondered why we had not crossed paths with them anymore. They had seen a notation from the boy with the bad foot and he had expressed the need to re—evaluate his trip because of his injury.

The Sisters told me the summit was very hard to reach and the down side was even harder. They said the top was very rocky and hot. The shelter was terrible and very old. I was beginning to appreciate the fact that I chose not to do it. They also said it had a beautiful view, and I was sorry to have missed that.

The last mile on the trail to Heels Gap was easy as I recall. The sound of traffic on the road was getting louder with each step. Marsha led and she waited for us at a sign which told the story of the Indian war between Slaughter Gap and Blood Mt. involving the Cherokees and the Creek.

We stepped down off the trail and onto highway 19 at Neels Gap together at 5pm. We had made it!!!! We crossed the road and went over to the Walasi-Yi Center. We decided to use the pay phone and call Mom and share the news that we were off the trail. She was happy for us!! We high-fived and rejoiced!!!


Em and Tee shirt we got 3 alike!
We took our packs off and left them outside the door and entered the center. We got cold drinks and candy bars. It was the best I’ve ever had. We vowed to come back and get Tee shirts when we were cleaned up. We sat outside on the rock wall and ate and drank in the highest of spirits.

It was about 1/4 mile down the busy highway to the parking area where we had left the Bronco.  We walked down the road with pride and we stepped high. Our aching muscles feeling better with each step.  Everyone who passed us waved. We still had our dirty smelly clothes tied to the back of our packs, but by this time this seemed perfectly normal to us! I Guess the passers by thought otherwise.

We reached the car and it was just as we had left it...but there we found a note in a zip lock bag under the wiper blade--IT was from the TRIO- Matt, Soroya, and Mic...

the note

We could not figure out how they had gotten past us!  There was no way--