Yesterday, Dragonfly and I hiked our first slack pack hike. Slack packing is where you hike with as light of a pack as you can-usually with just water, food, and rain gear. We were carrying about 15 pounds each, which is considerably less than usual.
Dragonfly planned this slack packing day over a week ago as part of our Trail Days experience. Everyone who heard about the idea thought it was a great idea and told us how easy it would be, “it’s all down hill” they said. Technically they were right, as it starts at 3,450 feet, climbs to 4,060 feet, and then finally descends to 1,928 feet back in Damascus. Every time we met other hikers they would say to us, “it’s all downhill from here”…and then we would go up. It became a joke to us as each time we climbed a little, we would say to each other “it’s all down hill from here.”
Getting back to the place where we needed to start required some phone calls. We finally found Gypsy Dave who agreed to shuttle us back-for a fee. He arrived in the pouring rain and we set out for this new way of hiking. We arrived at the place where we had stopped last Saturday (Route 91E just west of Shady Valley, TN). While we were putting our backpacks on, Gypsy Dave suggested that we think about slack packing another, more difficult section of trail the next day. So that is what we thought about as we started our 21.5 mile hike into the rain.
With packs weighing less we were able to lengthen our stride just a bit and we were able to cover more ground at a slightly faster pace, arriving at Damascus sooner than we had expected, where we immediately headed to dinner at the Blue Blaze Cafe.
And we have decided to take Gypsy Dave up on his offer to slack pack the next 21.5 miles. Tomorrow we will slack pack again, arriving back in Damascus one more time, before heading out on our own again.