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[at-l] Trip report of sorts - kinda long

FINALLY got to do the section from Deep Gap north to Wallace Gap, and, rain
aside, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thursday evening a co-worker and I made the dash from Central Florida up to
Rainbow Springs where Buddy shuttled us back to Deep Gap around 9:30 Friday
morning.  Sky was overcast and a misty fog was moving in when we headed up
towards Standing Indian. Trail was in good shape and the rains held off (for
a while) and we made good time up to the Standing Indian Shelter, had a
quick snack and headed on off.  Noted the warning on the shelter wall about
the pack-stealing bear - not something that I wanted to run into.

Had lunch on a rocky overlook somewhere just before Beech Gap.  The sky kept
getting darker so we put on our pack covers and headed on.  By 3 PM you
almost needed a flashlight to see the trail.  We were hoping to make it to
Betty Creek Gap but, when the sky opened up and proceeded to try and wash us
off of the mountain, we stopped at Carter Gap Shelter.  Already in residence
was a couple from Destin, Florida - Ladybug and Humbug. He was a retired Air
Force officer, and they were taking a leisurely trip from Dicks Creek up to
Hot Springs.  They were the only other hikers we saw the entire day. Pitched
my little MSR Zoid 1 - more on this tent later - in the rain and piled all
of my gear inside.  Ladybug was busy fixing coffee for everyone - it really
hit the spot.  I think they had been alone for awhile 'cause they were
talking our ears off - great couple, though, and he was very interested in
my alcohol stove - yes, I am now a convert.

Later that evening we had a hunting dog - complete with training collar -
come stomping into the shelter, wet, cold and hungry.  None of us had
brought that much extra food but we all managed to give the critter a little
something to eat.  We called the number on his collar with the c*** phone
and the guy that answered the phone was either drunk or a blooming idiot, as
he kept wanting to know where we had gotten the number, what dog were we
talking about, where were we calling from?  And where did we get the number?
What collar?  Sort of a who's on first kinda thing.  We hung up on him.
Dang dog kept us up all night wanting to get into the tents.

It rained continually all night, in heavy bands with fairly high winds.  The
Carter Gap Shelter sits back a little bit and is kind of protected which is

Saturday dawned rainy, dreary and very wet.  Ladybug and Humbug took off as
my friend and I were finishing up breakfast and were going to take the dog
with them as far as Betty Creek Gap where they were going to call a Ranger
to come get him.  The sky opened up again with another downpour as we headed
out hoping to get at least up  to the base of Albert Mountain.  Ten minutes
later the rain stopped, the wind dropped and blue skies started appearing
over head.  Turned out to be a beautiful kick-butt day.  Quarter of a mile
down the trail we passed The Bugs where the dog decided he wanted to be with
us and took off down the trail after us.

When we stopped for a snack at Betty Creek Gap these four guys came up from
the parking lot and recognized the dog as one that they had turned loose for
training.  Now, I'm from the South, but even I had a little trouble
understanding one of the guys - who seemed to be the guy in charge.  Big wad
of tobacco on one side and a tooth pick on the other side - said something
like "earottadawgs?" which I finally figured out was '"did you hear any
other dogs?"  When I answered in the affirmative, his answer - with a
projected spit - was something along the lines of "musthaddabartrid", which
I correctly - somehow - interpreted as "must have had a bear treed".  Faint
sounds of banjo's in the background....  Any way they took the hound off of
our hands and we - quickly - took off towards Albert Mountain.

Which almost kicked my butt.  I had heard about the "memorable climb" going
up Albert, but was not ready for this - it indeed was memorable, but under
my breath I am sure I gave it some other adjectives.  Views from the top
were absolutely stunning, with some clouds still bathing some of the
mountain peaks.  Made the climb worth it.  Well, almost...

Rest of the trip went rather quickly, as we went from Albert Mountain down
to Rock Spring Shelter where we camped down in the flatter area by the road.
Passed about six other southbound section hikers in the process, but no
Thru-hikers.  Spent a quite night at Rock Springs (very little traffic on
67) and then a quick almost effortless stroll from there to Rainbow Springs
where we had a hot shower and a cup of coffee (thanks Jensine!!).  We were
on the road heading back to Florida by 11 AM.  Bummer.

Couple of things - water was plentiful, almost the entire way.  There had
been much rain proceeding the trip and of course, the Friday we were hiking.
No bugs to speak of.  All along the trail we saw large piles of bear scat -
some fairly fresh - but did not see any of the scat-dumpers.  Trail was in
really good shape with a few blow-downs but nothing that prevented one from
either going over or under - ok, on one I went around.

The MSR Zoid 1 tent worked very well.  I stayed dry, even in the
pouring-dang-near-torrential rains.  There was a little condensation build
up in the morning, but -come on, it was 100% humidity...  I could have used
a little more room, but it was adequate.  I'm not sure how it will work out
for a really long hike as one could get really tired of it's confines.  But,
like I say, it worked out good on this trip.  Temperatures were in the low
70's during most of the day and low 50's at night.

The soda can stove from Tin Man really worked well.  I used a grand total of
four oz. of fuel the entire trip - two dinners and two cups of coffee.  And
with practice I think I could get by with less.

Anyway, 'nuff said, I'll cease my ramblings and get back to doing some work.
The trip was great, albeit short.  Next April I want to do Wallace Gap
through the Smokies, so if ya think this report was long....

Take care,