Saturday, March 6th, 2021
Yesterday, we took a rental car from our home in Maryland to Newport, Tennessee. It was time to kick off the 2021 hiking season and we were pumped! Middle Brother’s sister, or “landlord” as he calls her, picked us up at the hotel and dropped us off at the northern terminus of the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT). The three of us were super stoked to be back on trail.
We had a very steep 6 mile climb right off the bat. The trail turned into a blanket of moss and it got colder and colder as we climbed. We found a patch of sunshine to take our lunch break. Then it was back to climbing until we reached the Mount Sterling fire tower at the top. There were a lot of people up there with us, day hikers and weekenders. Our buddy Chestnut was there too! He was a section hiker we met on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2017. We hadn’t seen him since and were thrilled when he randomly reached out to us over the winter. He would be joining us for the first few days.
Fortunately, the rest of the hike was way more mellow! We were hiking through hemlock trees and ice crystals were crunching underneath our feet. Laurel Gap Shelter was where we stopped for the night. It was freezing out, but we had a fireplace at our disposal. We collected wood, started a fire and bundled up.
Sadly, the fire didn’t do a whole lot. Chestnut told us the overnight temperature dropped to 9 degrees Fahrenheit (about -13 degrees Celsius). My feet were numb, so I was restless. I didn’t sleep a wink.
12.0 miles (19.3 km)
Jump Ahead to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 2
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