March 31 - Betty Creek Gap

Night was supposed to be cold but was quite warm in tent. 20 degree bag and liner working like champs.

Takes long time to pack, because I tend to take almost everything out. 45 minutes, too long, must either pack more the night before or take out less.

Achin and I agree to head for Betty Creek Gap, 11.2 miles away and simply a camp area with water. We start up hill, but the trail is clear and compared to Georgia or even yesterday, easy to walk.

Am trying to learn that nearing a summit, in this case Standing Indian Mountain, the peak is never just ahead. Even if the sunlight is wafting gently off the alluring rhododendron leaves...just...up...there...it's just a switch back. Keep walking. The peak is further still.

After the peak is a long down hill and we get to the next set of shelters, 7.6 miles, in less than four hours. Eat a decent lunch, basically jamming in calories, to power through the remaining miles. Tortilla with peanut butter, tortilla with hummus, cheese stick, handfuls of dried cherries. Nom, Nom, Nom.

Other hikers are there, Katie and Joey (who Achin decides should be called Butler because he's constantly serving her), Gazelle, Whisper (our second Whisper on the Trail, and she does). Everyone is in good spirits because we have better trail and the weather is great; sunny and warm.

Off again after lunch and our hiking speed is even faster it seems. I'm beyond Achin in what seems a blink and cruise up a mile long hill without stopping. Trail legs coming? Stop at a great view and send a chat pic and phone call off to Deb.

Reach Betty Creek Gap, and it is fantastic. Tucked at the base of two hills, in a rhododendron grove, with little nooks for places to camp. To get to the Creek, our water source, walk through a tunnel of rhododendron to get to a eight foot wide, shallow creek. Best water source to date, into which I drop my two aching feet. The water is snow-runoff cold, and invigorating. And then it's freezing.

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