Yesterday I hit the trail by 9:30, the morning routine still close to 2 hours. Per the new normal, the morning started out with an uphill climb. I’m starting to get longer up hill scurries (which isn’t much) but I’m really loving the decents! I’m becoming a pole ninja and developing some quickening finesse coming down hill better.
There are people out here that volunteer with the AT Conservancy, I believe, called “trail runners”. I saw one blow by me once. Dude had to be close to 70 and hauling ass. No joke. Incredible! They’ll pickup trash and look for anything wrong. I’m guessing they have radios? Haven’t learned much about them. I hope to talk to one at some point.
I pulled 11.5 mi and dropped into Unicoi Gap at about 3:30. I needed to decide if I was going to go another 7mi to a shelter, heavy rains tonight, and that would be crushing my longest day to date. Or I could find a random solo spot along the trail to camp, or call an interesting place I happened across. As I found connection by the road and the weather radar loaded, I made the call.
Enota Mountain Retreat is only a couple miles off the trail, but they can arrange shuttle service to Unicoi. There is a large parking lot there for an AT trailhead and big rigs hauling lumber seem to like to ease by there and drop gear for the big decline ahead. At least that’s what I observed while waiting on my ride! I’ll get dropped back there when I hit the trail again, but it might be a couple days… this place is a freakin gem!
Enota is a working campground and educational non-profit in sustainability. They have five waterfalls and seven streams on the property as well as a large organic garden and working animal farm. Trails all over, some of them fairly challenging, and a stocked rainbow trout pond you can pull dinner out of. I’m seriously going to try to use some string from the camp store with a branch tomorrow and see if I can snag lunch and use one the numerous bbq grills to cook him up.
They have a range of cabins, RV and tent spots. For $40 there is a dorm style bunk house with a community kitchen. For hikers there is a discount on the motel rooms at $80.
During the right time(s) of year, they have work for stay opportunities. Cool. And it’s planting season here. I’m told snow can still happen into May. So I’m going to get dirty in the garden and maybe get to tend to some animals. It’s such a great trade off for a playground of waterfalls and springs, not to mention the dryness, bed and access to laundry. I’m totally bringing my kids back here.