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Filling in a gap, and adding a few more miles

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As my previous post from this year noted, I've been hampered in any attempt to get on The Trail in 2020. Still, last week I managed to (1) fill in a four-mile gap that I had previously let slip through and (2) get more miles within Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). Nothing major, even for me, but it was a few more miles.

Previous section hikes have ended at Greasy Creek Gap and begun at Iron Mountain Gap. That left 4.2 miles of the A.T. that I had left un-walked, and I decided to fill this in on a day hike. I drove down from Philadelphia, spent the night in Johnson City TN, drove to Iron Mountain Gap, parked my car there, walked to Greasy Creek Gap, and then returned. Nothing special, really.
What was unusual was how cool the day was. Normally my silk shirt is enough to keep wind, sun, and bugs off my arms; combining it with a merino wool base layer keeps me comfortable in almost any kind of summer, day-hike weather. This day I probably should have taken a wind-breaker; the wind chill was low enough to make the above combo insufficient for total comfort. For this short trip, I was cool but not cold.

The next day, after spending a night in Newport TN, was quite more ambitious. Starting at Cosby Campground in GSMNP -- which just opened to campers -- then hiking up the Low Gap Trail (read previous blog) to the A.T., hike trail south to Snake Den Gap, and then back down on the Snake Den Trail. This involved a total climb of 3000 feet, then a climb down of the same. Neither part was terribly difficult, but the weather had warmed up a bit. Instead of wishing I had a wind-breaker, this day I took off my outer-shirt due to sweating so much.

At this point in my blogs I prefer to report no insect bits, no forgetting of my pole, and no falls. Well, two out of three ain't bad -- I hit the dirt when a damp rock was more slippery than I thought it would be. It was actually one and a half falls, as I lost my balance trying to get up! Still, no major injury either in this fall or from the hike itself. In particular, no knee pain.

It's a long shot of getting any more miles in this year, as the hours of daylight are shrinking below my preferences. But if perfect weather and opportunity appear, I may just make a dash for it.