Last night, which was already late due to the night hike, was also the night of the alarm clock Bird. We are convinced the bird, whose call bore unfortunate similarities to an alarm clock, was singing all night to the full moon. To add insult to injury, we discovered bird poop on our bear bag the next morning so the delightful fellow was probably just calling and popping all night while staring at our tent. The bird finally stopped at around 6:15 AM and we found four solid hours of sleep after that. For the record, Funky slept great but didn't mind sleeping in with us. It was not a great night to lose sleep as we had to ascend from around 1500 to around 5500 feet over the course of the day, not to mention pass another Sassafrass Gap, and anytime we pass anything with Sassafrass in the name, it tends to be a pretty grueling. And grueling it was. We met plenty of other hikers taking numerous breaks on the 6.5 mile ascent, including Hansel, whose twin sister was Gretel. He stopped to play a rousing game of hit the tree with a rock. Tyler lost horribly, who can no longer throw anything well unless it's a bear line into a tree. Hansel at the tender age of 24 has already lived all over the world. After Sassafrass Gap Shelter we didn't see him again, but, as is typical, we're sure it won't be long until we met him again.
We also ran into Scribbles again, and, given that this is a third time, we have to be friends now. That's a rule we just made up. He showed Emily how to tie her shoes the marathon way a trick he learned from the amazing shoe experts at Outdoor 76 in Franklin. They apparently finally solved all of his shoe woes. Too bad Emily missed them when we were in Franklin.
*Scribbles & Tyler
It was getting pretty late when we rolled into Stecoah Gap. Our legs were not super responsive, but after getting water down the road, Funky and Tyler had a foot race each holding about three liters of water. Tyler may not be able to throw, but he can run.
We met a mother daughter team (daughter, Carli) who were hiking from Hiawasee to Fontana. They told us about their gourmet backpacking feasts, which would have been a bit cruel had they not also graciously shared their collection of spices and hot sauce with us. Instant mashed potatoes are much better with hot sauce. We headed to bed even later than normal after the alarm clock bird night, but we did get to take in a giant pink full moon rising over the horizon. We said good night to Funky, who, in our trail family, we now call lil' bro (Emily is big sis and Tyler is big bro). As we will be traveling with Piper and De for a bit the next day, we will have to bid a temporary farewell to our lil' bro, but hopefully not for long.