Up early with almonds and Nutella for breakfast. I headed out on the ridge more or less level at first then descending steeply. The trail featured steep drops, lots of rocks and plenty of root snares. The four-mile trip to the Nantahala River and the Nantahala Outdoor Center wore me out. But by the time I reached the river, spring had sprung with all the trees and shrubs leafed out. At the Outdoor Center, I bought a pint of chocolate milk and a pint of chocolate ice cream. They disappeared quickly. I got my food box, repacked it and gave the extra food to Rl Jeffe who had arrived. That done, I took a heavenly shower. As I headed uphill, about 15 hikers were chatting at a picnic table. They seemed to be in no hurry. I set forth on a 3,000-foot elevation climb. The trail was mostly ok with some excessively steep spits. I ate lunch at The Jump, a scenic spot, with Ken and Jen, visitors from Oregon who had hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Upward for more elevation gain to the Sassafras shelter, probably the destination of most of the chatting hikers. I got 2 liters of water and ascended a steep short climb to Choeah Bald and had a rest. The steep descent to Locast Love Gap tired my right foot and knee. One more climb and descent brought me to Stecoah Gap, my destination for the night. Just as I arrived, a North Carolina State Forest guy stopped and gave me 2 liters of water. As I sat at a picnic table, a guy camped nearby gave a donut. Swell. This was a tough day. Today's miles - 18.5. Total miles - 150.7.