Connie, Defib and Gadget
You never know when something that you are not sure of becomes one of the highlights of the trip. So it was with Greasy Creek Lodging. Connie was one of most unusual souls we have met yet became another close friend by the time we left. Her rules were over the top. She admitted to being OCD and she had us hopping during our stay. We slept in the unheated home with her and three other hikers who had arrived in the last decade and never left.
Defib, Huck, and Ray
Huck discovered that he was going to go to Hell because he was eating shrimp flavored Raman Noodles yet received a major hug upon his departure. As a matter of fact we didn’t leave until about 10 because we were waiting for the rain to stop.
The Departure From Greasy Creek
As we were leaving Connie came to the door to bid us farewell. Our first moment with her had been, “Take your boots off, sticks outside, packs inside, wash your hands, don’t use towels, use paper and then put it in the pan under the wood stove, wash the tub, don’t come behind the counter, and on and on. Huck, Ray and I looked at each other. There was a feeling that there was a shotgun nearby. In spite of that we stayed.
This was the unheated bunk house. It stood empty. Within her house there was one room with three beds. We took those making this a bed and breakfast….. without the breakfast. The three semipermanent occupants continued their dominos game throughout with their jackets on.
Complete With Broken Trucks and abandoned Trailers
In spite of all that we found all of them very pleasant and after a period of time we realized that this would be one of the more memorable moments of our hike. Pure country sincerely presented without any attempt to misrepresent their life. The simplicity of it was refreshing.
Posted: Keep Out
And so we parted as friends….sincere friends. The hugs were genuine and the conversation with everyone there was upbeat and animated even though we had little conversation with them the night before.
What We Thought was the Hostel
Our hike off of the mountain the night before had introduced us to this building as our first contact. It seemed ominous. In the end we were more than happy with our choice to stay and Ray and I are somewhat certain that we can work to save Huck from the jaws of Hell.
On this morning we once again passed this structure and I was once again reminded to never judge a book by its cover. Even oysters can contain a pearl.
A Mile Up the Trail
We had been so absorbed with the interaction with Connie we nearly forgot that we had gone inside because the report of yet another winter. The climb was getting colder and with the elevation change we got back into snow. New frozen snow. Stopping to add layers of clothing or removing them became the norm. I can tell you that doing so is no easy task especially when you have pack rain covers on. We climbed up past Clyde Smith Shelter with the weather becoming less inviting. Our plan was to camp at Carver’s Gap. Huck and Ray were way ahead of me and the farther I got up the mountain the less that plan sounded to good to me.
The Ravages of Time
The thought of experiencing a third winter on this trip leaves you quite dead inside…..somewhat like this tree. It’s the last thing I wanted and yet there was just no way around it. It must have been a strong thought within me because I actually stopped to take this picture. That may seem inconsequential to you but it meant pulling off your gloves to take the picture. That is just something you want to avoid.
The Best View off of Little Rock Knob
After a climb of about 900 feet on frozen ground I arrived here at Little Rock Knob. The trail book has a icon of a camera at this spot signifying a magnificent view for taking pictures. They had obviously moved Clingman’s Dome, Charlie’s Bunion and most of the other great views of the AT here because they all seem to look quite a bit alike.
The Hughes Family
Being a fan of history I like it when people think enough to memorialize those who came before us. A highway passed this spot and I had paused long enough to read this memorial and catch my breath. The stories persists that the folks in these here parts still resent hikers because some of their land was taken to build the trail. I personally think that is a lot of bunk but nonetheless when I heard an old muffler less truck climbing the hill I found myself force feeding my legs to climb the next hill. No sense in temping fate, I say. Or is it that I tempt it everyday.
The Climb Became Treacherous
I could still hear the truck riding back and forth looking for a hiker to murder when I came upon this sure sign of summer. By then the walking track had become an ice glacier. Clinging to the trees along the sides of the trail became a must. Thoughts of saving my front teeth and noggin became an obsession. Reaching the goal of Carver’s Gap began to fade.
Cold Old Times
The ground was now totally frozen and the chill in the air was beyond description without the use of bad words. I kept my mouth shut. I finally reached this old chimney which meant that I had arrived near the top of Roan Mountain. I had managed to climb 2,100 feet of frozen ground. I just wish someone had thought to start a fire in that fireplace.
As the day progressed the Weather Digressed.
I was ready to quit for the day yet there were no options. Well almost no options. On the very top of Roan Mountain sits Roan High Knob Shelter. At 6,186 feet above sea level it’s the highest shelter on the AT…on this very cold night. I was skating on ice considering the options when I happened upon Ray.
“I was just leaving you a note! The shelter has a door! We have stopped here!”
Relief came over me. The thought that we were going to sleep in an unheated building on the top of mountain 1,000 feet above a mile high, on a sub freezing night surrounded with snow and ice somehow was softened with the word door. I happily followed Ray with aching feet to the shelter. Huck was standing inside the shelter shivering. “It’s got a door!”
Blessings sometimes come in strange forms. But they do allow us to “hike on”