I leave the gorge early in the morning and read Chapter4 of the Tao te Ching (translated by Steven Mitchell):
“Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.”
I pass a monument to a firefighter who lost his life to a wildfire. I am climbing to Cheoah Bald (5000 feet elevation),
“It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.”
I met Barefoot Dan (who walks without shoes) and another hiker, close to the “jump up” before Swim Bald.
The girls are walking to Damascus, Virginia.
“It is hidden but always present.”
“I don’t know who gave birth to it.”
“It is older than God.”
This huge toad is not afraid.
This terrain was some of the hardest on the Appalachian Trail. I spent the night partway up Jacobs Ladder.
I pass a small stream and the Cable Gap Shelter. The day finishes with a 2000 foot descent – hard on the knees. I must recover before going into the Great Smoky Mountains.