Days 8 – 9 Unicoi Gap – Dicks Creek Gap (Hiawassee) Mile 69.5 since Springer Mountain
After the unplanned stop in Helen to dry out, I resumed Saturday morning with Sam at Unicoi Gap. The very nature of a “gap” is that it tends to be low, so our opening hike was a trudge up Rocky Mountain in the rain, from an elevation of about 2900 feet to 4000 feet over the course of about a mile and a quarter. “Trudge” is a very appropriate word to use for these climbs, at least it is for me. The severity of the incline necessitates stops every 50 to a 100 yards to allow my heart-rate to come down again before trudging on. I’m aware that many of the climbs ahead will be much more severe, so I hope that this early practice will stand me in good stead.
Once we had peaked Rocky Mountain, the climb down was just as steep, and this presents it’s own issues. Suddenly, all the muscles that were used to climb up are superseded by those used to climb down; everything gets a work out.
The trail was getting fairly muddy from the continuous rain, so I was especially careful in my foot and pole placement, with a few slides keeping me alert. So it was something of a surprise to me that, when I was on perfectly level ground, strolling along as if it were a day in the park, I slipped, stumbled and neatly pirouetted onto my fairly ample backside. Fortunately, the only thing hurt was my dignity, as I floundered in the bush, unable to move because my backpack was caught up. Sam came to my rescue and untangled me. It showed how careful you need to be at all times when walking on some of these treacherous surfaces.