Archive for April, 2011

Day 46

Laurel Fork shelter to Watauga Lake shelter via Hampton, TN.

I hiked into Hampton this morning, then back out to the trail on the road, bypassing 5 or 6 miles of actual trail. But adding 4 or 5 miles of road walking, so it’s only just barely cheating on distance. Where it’s really cheating is on elevation, those miles I skipped were over Pond Mountain, where the road walk was mostly flat.

Also cheating in that I had breakfast and junk food and laundry in town of course!

I can’t see the lake from Watauga Lake shelter, but I did get to hike next to it and stick my feet in the water at the beach.


That’d be the beach in question. There was a spot where several butterflies were just sitting there. I don’t know why, but they were totally unfazed by me taking pictures right next to them. They were alive, sometimes one would fly off or another would land. Hope you can see their markings in this shot.

Location:U.S. 321 Scenic,Laurel Fork,United States

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Day 45.5: Hampton

For anyone wondering about the storms last night, I’m fine. At the shelter, the wind had pretty much stopped by the time the rain started. It wasn’t a very bad storm right there. I understand a lot of places around here were not so lucky, but it was “no big deal” for me.

Anyway, I hiked into Hampton, TN this morning, and had breakfast at a place with no name. “We’re out of biscuits and gravy” she told me. “What do you have?” I asked. “Eggs, toast, bacon, sausage,” she said.

“Fine, give me all of that” I told her. Yes, that’s right, I ordered everything on the menu! Finally my life is complete.

I am doing laundry right now, then back to the trail.

Location:Tiger Valley,United States

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Day 45: 17.5

Mountaineer shelter to Laurel Fork shelter. 17.5 miles. The farthest I’ve ever walked in one day, not just this trip. If I say my feet are killing me, it could be literally true. Is it possible to die from sore feet?

There was an even more impressive falls today right at the end, I will get a picture up sometime. Too tired to fire up the SD card reader, so you just get words.

It’s been threatening to rain all day, and word is there’s a huge storm due to hit basically any minute. Weatherbug says 100% chance of precipitation and high winds just one hour away. I’m glad i made it to this shelter (which is old, but made of stone and very sturdy) The storm should be gone by morning. I’m a little worried about why there are two packs here without their owners, hope they’re somewhere safe or they make it back here before the storm hits!

Tomorrow will be a short walk into Hampton for breakfast and minor resupply. And a shower and laundry if possible. (there’s a hostel in town, that should get me a shower, and I think a laundromat too, or the hostel might have laundry). But then back to the trail. Damascus is only a few days away now, and it’s one of the most famous trail towns. Can’t wait!

Location:Stout Hollow Rd,,United States

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Day 44: Falls

Mountain Harbour hostel to Mountaineer shelter. Would have gone farther, this is only 9 miles, but there’s a strong likelihood of rain, plus I didn’t sleep all that well on the sofa bed last night. I could definitely hike a few more miles, but I’ll stay dry, thanks.

Might only be two of us here tonight. Papa Rose just showed up, and I don’t think anyone else who was at the hostel is stopping. But there could be folks who started farther back and skipped the hostel.

The shelter is near Mountaineer Falls, but the real highlight of the day was Jones Falls a few miles back. The biggest falls the trail has passed yet!

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Day 42: Life, The Universe and Everything

Hughes Gap to Overmountain Shelter. This was just about the most beautiful day on the trail. Started out with a big climb up Roan Mountain, one of the highest points on the trail, but wasn’t itself all that special. At the top was the site of the old Cloudland Hotel, which must have been a great old hotel, but it was demolished in the early 1900s. Too bad, I would’ve stayed there!

The real highlights though were the huge grassy balds after Roan itself. The weather was perfect and the views were spectacular.


My ugly mug blocking your view.


An actual view. As always, pictures don’t do it justice. You could easily park and hike less than a mile to this particular view. You should!

To top it off, I ended the day at Overmountain Shelter, and old barn converted to a shelter. But also with another great view.


And this is cheating, but here’s the first sight of Overmountain if you are a SoBo. Us NoBos don’t see it til we’re about 100 feet away from it.


That little red speck is it, hope the big version comes out better than viewing it on the phone! Click it and see.

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Day 43: Mountain Harbour

[Note: I only barely have signal here and Day 42’s post is picture heavy. I’m going to try to post it after this, but I might not be able to get it uploaded today.]

Overmountain to Mountain Harbour hostel. I got in just in time to get the last spot in the hostel itself, though you can pitch a tent here and still use all the facilities (like the shower, especially). My spot is the pull out sofa bed. Probably more comfortable as a sofa, I haven’t pulled it out yet and may not. It’s still in use as a couch!

Had a BBQ sandwich and a chocolate shake in town and did some pointless resupplying. I had about enough to make it two days to Kincora hostel, but it’s hard to hit town and not pick up more stuff. I’ll eat better for it, and I do a similar small resupply in Hampton it’ll probably be enough to get me to Damascus. But I’m not really planning that fr ahead, just speculating.

I’ve found a new group hiking about the same pace as me it seems, I’ve camped at the same place as a group of about 4 every night since Erwin. Good to have some familiar faces day to day again. I’ll get another faces post going soon.

Location:Roan Mountain,United States

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Day 41: The Last Muffin

Cherry Gap shelter to campsite half a mile past Hughes Gap. That last half mile was the start of the climb up Roan Mountain, first thing tomorrow will be several more miles climbing.

There was trail magic at Hughes Gap, a nice way to end the day. I had a soda and the last muffin, a nice moist chocolate chip version. Also a bottle of water and some hard candies for later. Thanks anonymous trail angel!

Looking forward to getting over Roan tomorrow. As mentioned, the trail should start getting easier for a while. There’s a hostel coming up that I think offers rides into one of the little tiny towns nearby, that might be tomorrow night’s stop, but I haven’t checked the guide for the distance yet, might be the day after. Town means town food!

Location:Hideaway Farm Rd,Piney Flats,United States

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Day 40

Curley Maple shelter to Cherry Gap shelter.

The forecast for rain was largely wrong. It never rained over night, and while it did start raining in the morning, it stopped about half an hour after I left the shelter and never really started again. Was still foggy and damp all day, but all in all it was pretty good hiking weather. It’s nice when it’s cool, I sweat less. Tomorrow the sun should be out again.

Not sure where I’m stopping tomorrow. Roan High Knob shelter is about 17 miles out, and it’s the highest shelter on the AT. So while I’d like to stay there just for that, that’s probably too far for tomorrow considering it’s also a huge climb to get there, but then it’ll probably be too short a hike for the next day. Oh well! It’s only a few hundred feet lower than Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the trail period.

After descending Roan though, the trail finally starts to flatten out some. The rest of the way to Hampton should be one of the flattest stretches yet, and then Hampton to Damascus is practically a pancake (with a few lumps in it). Yay!

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Day 39: Curley Maple

Erwin to Curley Maple shelter, a very short day at only 4 miles (plus a one mile road walk back to the trail.). There’s a couple reasons for that. First it’s going to rain tonight and tomorrow so a shelter is in order, and that meant either 4 miles or 17 miles today. Second, short days out of town fight those first day blues too.

Dumbledore and Fuel are here but they’re hiking on in a minute, they’ve got some crazy schedule to keep for a ride somewhere in a few days.

Nothing to do now but read until bedtime. Back to normal mileage tomorrow. In the rain. Ugh!

Location:Temple Hill Rd,Erwin,United States

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Days 37 & 38: Erwin

Tuesday: 8ish miles from unnamed campsite into Erwin, TN

Wednesday: Zero day in Erwin.

Tuesday was my earliest start by about half an hour. I got on the trail at 7:15, eager to get into Erwin. That’s cheating a little bit though, as I camped at a site without water, and had essentially none in the morning, so I had to stop a mile in and filter water. Still, that takes 10-15 minutes and it would have been my earliest start even at 7:30.

How fast I can get packed up and walking is kind of a game. I don’t try to do it fast very often, i just pay attention to how long it is from when I decide to get up (not when I wake up) to when I’m actually moving. It’s usually about an hour. Tuesday was about 40 minutes. It really seems like I ought to be able to get it down to about 20 or 25 if I cared to try (and if I’m only eating granola bars, cooking oatmeal adds a lot)

Once in Erwin, I got into a hotel then walked the three miles into downtown to pick up a package at the post office (a new Verizon iPhone, I guess lnorigb actually likes talking to me or something – AT&T does not have nearly the coverage Verizon does out on the trail), had a cheeseburger and did my resupply.


Getting back to the hotel, I hitched a ride. Miss Janet herself stopped to pick me up. She’s a local trail celeb, she used to run a hostel here in Erwin, but this year she’s thru-hiking herself. She just happened to be home for a few days and spotted me pathetically trying to hitch a ride. Note for future: even if you don’t NEED your pack with you, bring it anyway, people stop for hikers, they don’t stop for bearded weirdos with grocery bags!

Today I did nothing at all. It was raining this morning, but I didn’t really have an excuse all afternoon other than I just didn’t wanna. That’s what zeros are for. I did order a pizza finally, it’s on it’s way now.

Next major stop is likely Hampton. There is a smaller one in between but I might just skip it entirely depending how I feel. This next leg is still just as hilly as everything before it, but after Hampton, things start to get much gentler for a while. The Hampton to Damascus leg stars to look positively flat toasted the end. I am REALLY looking forward to that!


One of the most troublesome signs I’ve ever seen.


The Nolichucky River, just before getting to Erwin.

Location:Temple Hill Rd,Erwin,United States

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