We had a pretty dry night last night but woke up to some showers and it was a challenge to pack up our gear in the rain. Fortunately it wasn’t too cold so putting on our wet clothes and heading out early at 7:30 wasn’t too bad. As we climbed out of Low Gap Shelter we felt really good and so lucky to be on such a beautiful section between Hog Pen and Unicoi. The clouds hung low in the blue mountain ranges and several times we stopped and took in the views.
It rained pretty steady for the rest of the hike and we stopped for lunch at Blue Mountain shelter. As we left the lunch stop we decided it would be a good idea to head into town and get our gear clean and dry for the next few days. I called and got us room and we hung out at Unicoi Gap until we made a connection for a shuttle driver. Our shuttle driver Joyce was great and she outfitted her back seat with covers and we piled in with Chuck. We immediately apologized for the smell but she took it in stride.
We got to our room and headed to the laundromat. In only have 2 pairs of clothes so it was a challenge figuring out how to clean the maximum amount and not be naked. I ended up sporting my sleep run pants and puffy jacket around downtown Helen. It being hiker season I was in good company and saw some some similarly weird outfits. During laundry time, I went to the post office and mailed a bunch of stuff home. After 4 days of hauling this gear I got real particular about what I really wanted to carry. I sent home my GoPro, Kindle, Chuck’s Marty the Moose Toy (he was totally uninterested) and some extra batteries.
I spent another hour or so further reducing weight. I started to really think hard about all of the little ways to lighten the pack. Rubber bands instead of a binder clip for cash, ditch the envelope for the Smokies permit, dump the ibuprofen bottle and keep the pills in a bag. It all adds up (or down) and I think I’ll feel it tomorrow.
Today was also for Chuck. After two days of hiking in the rain he was needing a break. He is doing great but I wanted to give home some rest time on a comfy hotel bed. He has been a perfect hiking and tent buddy and deserves to crash for a good long sleep. Joyce is picking us up tomorrow at 8:30 and we are looking forward to some long challenging climbs to our next overnight shelter.