11-8-09 day 159
start: Rock Gap Shelter, NC
end: Muskrat Creek Shelter, NC
daily mileage: 24.6
total mileage: 2099.0
We had our nice short cut planned today that would cut the "24.6" trail miles down to 11 ( or so we thought, it turned out to be more like 15, but still). We made no hurry getting up and out. Because Fiddler wanted to be a purist, he had a big day planned that went all the way around so he'd be at the same shelter as us tonight. Tin Man came the short way with us. 2 1/2 miles after the shelter we ditched off the AT down a blue blaze that took us down and across the valley, across the Forest Service road, and back up Standing Indian Mountain where it rejoined the AT. The trail up Standing Indian as steep, overgrown, and paved with loose rocks covered with about 6 inches of dry leaves. No a super fun climb. The summit of Standing Indian was the highest we'll be for the rest of the trail, and the last point above 5000.
We made tracks Muskrat Creek Shelter and as we approached we could hear a penny whistle. Now, Fiddler had recently picked up a penny whistle, but there is no way he could have beaten us. Sure enough Fids was there and as we were lauding him for his ludicrously fast time he revealed he had in fact cheated worse than us. He'd realized with the late start his 24 miles was a bit ambitious and instead accepted a series of rides that cut it down to 10!
We built a nice fire and sat around cooking and reading. This is the new highest place we will ever be on the trail. Fiddler set the traps again and up to now we've got 8. One more and the record is broken, fingers crossed. Some coyotes are howling their insane screeching howl, what sounds like really close, its cool. 11 miles into Hiawassee and across the last border tomorrow for our last re-supply...crazy