Monday, March 15th, 2021
It was a super windy day and I was in horrible condition. My feet were completed destroyed. My blisters were only part of the problem. I was also experiencing some severe and sharp knee pain that was significantly slowing down my speed. All I had on my mind was getting to town from Hazelnut Knob. This trail received another nickname, the “Bacon MacKaye Trail”. Wildlife was limited, but lately we were seeing more scat and hearing the squeals of wild pigs more frequently.
I wasn’t feeling too great, but at least the scenery was beautiful. After hiking along a ridge, we got a nice view at Cantrell Top. Then we hiked down to Tate Gap where we saw old chimneys and the ruins of a large house. Had I been feeling better, I would have loved to hike down the hill to explore it. We found ourselves walking on an old road bed which turned into a wide, gravel road before turning to grass. While walking under power lines, we could see the smoke from one of the controlled burns in the distance.
I was nearly in tears by the time I reached the Unicoi Gap parking lot at mile 162.6. My feet were on fire and my knees felt like pin cushions. It wasn’t a long wait on the side of TN-68 before a truck pulled over to take us into town. The lady was traveling with her grandkid who had just gotten carsick. She kept apologizing for stalling our trip, but we didn’t mind it in the least. We were just happy that we would be in town soon. After she cleaned up her grandkid, we hopped in the bed of her truck which was covered in goat poop. Once again, we weren’t too concerned. It had been a long time since we’ve done any laundry or taken showers, but we would have an opportunity to freshen up once we arrived in Ducktown.
Our driver recommended the Ducktown Copper Inn, and we were glad we took her suggestion. The owner was incredibly hiker friendly. We ate at Hardee’s, grabbed some snacks at Dollar General, then returned to our rooms to shower off. We met two section hikers, Kathmandu and his friend who was currently suffering from vertigo. We were a little cautious about their self-diagnosis during COVID and kept our distance, just in case. The last thing we needed was to get stranded in a motel for a week recovering from illness. We also met a traveler named Stevie and his adorable pitbull, Kato. Most of the evening was spent laying around in our room. We stayed up all night eating snacks and watching bad television.
16.1 miles (25.9 km)
Jump Ahead to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 11
Jump Back to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 9
Start from the Beginning: Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 1