April 26 - Whistling Gap, campsite (328.6)

So we get up closer to 7, and try to stay leisurely before heading out at 9:30. We arrive at the gap, and there's magic, but not Magic. The husband of Jersey Girl is giving out apples, bananas, boiled eggs, and soda, which actually works out great. Thank him for his generosity, assume the bigger Magic starts later, and return to the Trail. Achin and I stop for lunch about three miles later at a small meadow.

We start heading up a big climb, 1,700 feet, which is made up of sharp inclines interspersed with relatively flat sections. I see local men harvesting ramps (in a Federal forest?), but try not to pay too much attention.

The payoff of this climb is Big Bald, another huge grassy meadow with 360 degrees of views. It's a nice sunny day, clear in every direction, and with a gentle breeze it's easy to sit leaning against my backpack and try to take it in. Some other thrus are kicking around a hacky sack while the rest just sit and enjoy the magnificent space.

Continue on and make it to our first target, Bald Mountain Shelter (325.1) at 3:30. There are others here,thrus and sections, but they are all moving on. Snack and drink water while figuring out what to do. Little angered by someone who put a huge bag of trash on the bear cables then left. Not only will this attract animals, but most likely volunteer trail maintainers will have to haul it out. I'll grab small things with my trash, but that's too much.

Achin and I had set a secondary target of this campground, and wanting to reduce tomorrow's mileage while I had the time, decide to set out. Don't make great time as the days hills are taking a toll, but arrive at 6:10 meeting it's two inhabitants, a father-son section team from Kentucky.

Tomorrow working to get to a hostel for two nights, with one zero day to resupply and rest up before our next push toward Virginia.

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