Now Where Did Those Dang Youngsters Git to!
Tri Corner Shelter was way too crowded. I found myself dissatisfied with the services. It was like riding the MBTA into Boston for a Red Sox-Yankees baseball game. A group of section hikers who were hiking about 12 feet a day had arrived early pushing the thru hikers outside. I would have to reconsider my future.
The Beauty of Snake Den Ridge
It was another dreary day and the promised beautiful views of the Smokies were quickly being passed never seen. It was so socked in you couldn’t even get those cool pictures of passing fog along the distant mountains. .
Signs of A Constantly Wet Forest
I tried to pick up my pace. We wanted to arrive in Hot Springs by Friday and that was about 51 miles in three days. Each day is a solo hike and most hikers leave independently so Silver, No Name, Headwig, Honey Bear, Granite Man, Subman, and River Guide all left the shelter of their own accord.
Finally A View Toward Cosby
About 09:30 it finally happened…. we saw land below. For the first moment since we entered the Smokies we knew that if we were to fall off of the trail we would actually hit ground somewhere below rather than falling through an eternity of hazy fog.
Beauty Can Come From Many Sources
Deer Creek, Camel Gap, and Cosby Knob came and went. The clouds were intermittent. I set my sights on getting out of the Smokies on this day.
Hike Your Pants Off
Along the way you’ll find various articles of clothing. A pair of pants, a single sock… Somewhere out there is a mug… a down vest…some mittens.
Where You Do Your Business
At most of the shelters they have built these cool top of the line privies. Nothing but the best! Number 2 only. Number one must be done in the woods. When the cone of 2 gets too close to personal space you are responsible for knocking the cone down. There is a bucket of leaves in there… just tossing in a handful of leaves constitutes flushing.
Headwig Blasts Past Me Going Uphill Of Course
Headwig is a young lady From Wisconsin who is solo hiking the trail. She got her name because of her love of the owl in the Harry Potter series. We have passed each other several times. As is the norm… I pass her when she stops. She passes me while I’m moving.
The town of Cosby Below
I was satisfied with my progress. Several of the group were setting their sights on Davenport Gap Shelter within the Smokies but my intent was to say goodbye to these here hills. I needed new hills.
Honey Bear of Ohio, Virginia, and soon to be West Virginia
HoneyBear is a physical therapist originally from Cleveland, Ohio. She finished school and had just completed working in that field in a nursing home in Richmond, Virginia. Now free of school debt she has accepted a position in outpatient therapy in West Virginia. She figured now was the time to solo hike the AT.
A View From Mt Cammerer
The weather had continued to improve. As I left the 5,000 foot peaks it began to warm. I passed a few hikers who had been on the trail quite a bit longer than me. I came upon Headwig who was perched on a large rock looking out over this. “I’ve just been sitting here”, she offered. I knew where she was.
The Trail Traveled
She quietly moved on leaving me for a moment in my own thoughts. I took the spot moments before occupied by her.
The Long Haul to the End of the Smokies
I Hot footed it until I had passed Davenport Gap Shelter. My legs had become weary. I was up over 15 miles. Finally the end point appeared. A register box like at Fontana was there along with the sign telling of upcoming attractions. I wanted to post my own sign. ” Don’t enter if you know what’s good for you! There is ugly weather and cold and slush and snow and winds that will pick you up and dump you in Atlanta” The thought left my mind… I was out of the Smokies!!!!
The First Smokies Sign
I had managed to hike the 31.4 miles from Newfound Gap in less than two days. Granted I had no idea where my tramily was but I was clear of bad weather. Perhaps the next section would be kinder.
Someone Knew of Our Misery
As I turned to cross the dirt road for a two mile hike to Interstate 40 I came upon this cooler. There is life out here, An unknown Trail angel had been here and left cold Mountain Dews and Cokes! More important… there was a box of Honey Buns…. the best of the Southern spirit! I threw away my fatigue…. there were Honey Buns in the area. I suddenly had the energy of a twenty year old. I ripped open one of the beautiful packages and deeply inhaled the sweet smell of this normally unhealthy joy. I popped the top of a Coke and found myself a rock to sit upon. I was now in the finest restaurant in the U.S of A.
Not only that but I found signs of my Tramily. Silver had signed the cooler. And Kylo left a message for the Angel, “I love you!”
The Forest Is Different Outside Of The Smokies
I bid the wonderful cooler adieu and crossed the dirt road now feeling refreshed and energized. Two miles to the Interstate.
The Pigeon River
A major goal on this trail is to see this river. Sadly Honey Buns had reenergized me but the concrete bridge reminded me of how fatigued my feet were.
Civilization In The Form Of A Interstate
I was about to cross into a new space. The hikers were no where to be found. I was geographically between Asheville and Knoxville. The columns of the bridge had whites slashes on them. The AT symbol was painted on the road. Yup… I was headed in the right direction.
This Is Supposed To Be Easier Than The Smokies?
I drug my feet up the small section of dirt road to the point at which the trail went straight up a set of rock stairs. An old pickup came up behind me and stopped. A bearded fellow kindly asked if I needed a ride up to Standing Bear Hostel. I kindly thanked him for his offer but told him that I needed to climb those stairs which led to the very same place without the benefit of a road or four tires. He looked at me as if I was not right of mind. As an extra incentive he picked up a drink cup from the console of his truck. “I’ve got some real wild stuff in this here cup.”
” No thanks. I’ll take the stairs.” With that he wished me Good Day and drove up the mountain. I was left standing there looking at my choice. They were horrible. We certainly do some strange things to hike every foot of this trail.
At Last……Night is Upon Me
I only made it another mile. Exhaustion grabbed me by the throat and slung me to the ground.I would not catch my tramily. Silver and No Name had camped at Painter Branch 2.2 miles ahead of me. I found a spot along a small area and cleared away the sticks. In a moment my tent was up and I cooked supper. It was some horrible concoction of unknown substance. Luckily I was Honey Bun happy. I dug a hole and buried supper. By that time it was dark thirty but for some reason it was still light.I looked up. How unusual. Was that the moon? Where have you been old friend? I was stealth camping solo with my supper buried in a hole and everything was wonderful!