Day 9 – Long Branch Shelter to Winding stair gap

Slept in the top level of the shelter as it rained as hard as I can remember during the night. As daybreak drew, the storm had abated and 3 of us started out for winding stair gap where we hoped to get a shuttle to Franklin, nc.

When we began the walk, the sky was a little overcast, however, after about an hour, the heavens let loose all their fury. I can’t remember walking on such a storm, even when I picked the worst days in my training. It was so windy, that at one point, I was almost blown off the trail. My original plan was to get a ride into Franklin and pick up some supplies and head out. The storm changed that. When I arrived at winding stair gap, there was no shuttle to take me into town, and the ride I had arranged, wasn’t going to arrive for 2 hours, so I found a guy in the parking lot to give me a ride.

Most of the hikers stayed in the budget inn, but it was full, so I ended up in the sapphire inn. The name belies the actual condition of the inn. It was 1960s style, with beaten up

furniture, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers and it had a roof and a bed, so I was happy. Cost the princely sum of $65 a night. It was right across the street from a McDonald’s, where I had my first real food in a few days: 2 Big Macs, large fries, medium drink and a vanilla shake. It was good.

After drying off, I went to the “liberal hiker” part of town to an outfitter where I bought some supplies and had a beer in the back of the store. Think REI with a saloon in back. This is a very conservative part of the state and there were only a couple of stores open.

Had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, which was quite good if you take out the margarita.

Turned in for the night and was glad for a roof over my head.

One of the streams crossed in the pouring rain. The white blaze on the tree points the way.

On the way to Franklin.

The AT is a big deal.

The Sapphire inn.

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