Hike #5 - Wayah Gap to Nantahala River

After reviewing my maps, I decide that for my next hike I am going to attempt to do a solo hike 21.4 miles all in a single day (a personal record). It helps that I won't need a heavy pack on this hike - just a hydration pack and a few other necessities.  This 21 mile hike will take me to elevations as high as 5,342 (Wayah Bald) and finish up at the lowest point of elevation (only 1,723) at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) which is of course on the Nantahala River.  The NOC area has changed quite a bit since I last visited there over 25 years ago on a rafting trip and I figured it would be a great place to finish up a long day hike.

The tricky part of each of these trips is in the planning.  For this trip I enlisted the help of my cousin, +Lacey Deal, to act as my shuttle driver.  Lacey is the younger sister of my cousin, +Grayson Deal (aka Tin Man), whom I hiked with during Hike #2.  My plan was to spend Friday night with Lacey and family at their home near Black Mountain, NC.  The next morning (Saturday, September 15, 2012) Lacey and I would then drive the 1.5 hour drive to Wayah Gap and she would drop me off around 8:00 a.m.  She would then drive back and pick me up at NOC around 6:00 p.m. later that afternoon.  Although Black Mountain, NC is not that close to my destination it is a lot closer than Clemmons, NC and anything that saves me a little bit of time is nice.  It was an added bonus that I got to spend some quality time chatting with Lacey during our drive.  As often happens with relatives, we see each other once or twice during the year on holidays but there is rarely enough time to properly catch up.  Lacey is indeed a remarkable young lady and I'm proud to call her family.  It was nice spending that time with her and she has even promised to join me for one of my hikes someday soon.  I intend to make sure she keeps that promise.