30 March 2021. Day 10. 16.2 Miles + 100.1 Miles = 116.3 Miles. Swapping Camp Creek to Piney River North Fork. Up and Over Bald Knob (Which Ain’t Bald!)

Swapping Camp Creek

Needless to say I slept well at Swapping Camp Creek. As usual I had the place to myself. About two miles before I set up camp the night before I had passed another hiker who had set up a hammock for the night but he was already racked out when I came by. Literally Feral had been my only human contact the day before after Pilgrim left me at the trailhead.

Bear Bait and his Virtual Hiking Wife Elizabeth

I had crossed Swapping Camp Creek and climbed to a forest service road when I came upon a hiker standing checking his map. I recognized him immediately. It was Bear Bait who I met way back at Wilson Creek Shelter. That was also the day that I met Action, Adventure and Solange. A moment later I realized that he had been the hiker in the hammock the night before.

He let me know that he was about to meet his virtual hiking wife on United States Highway 60 which was a little more than 4 miles ahead of us. I fell in behind him and soon found myself hiking with someone else for the first time on this 100 mile hike. It didn’t take long to determine that we were like minded. The hike became pleasant. He had a career in the military with the Navy in the judicial investigation arena. The career left him world traveled and having dealt with some remarkable events. Once he retired he got a job with a government agency responsible for fraud against the U.S. government by private contractors. You know…. you’ve heard the stories…. the taxpayers being charged $10,000 for a toilet seat. He said that it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

His wife is traveling with him in their recreational vehicle and staying in Air B & B’s or at camp grounds. Tonight he would get off the trail with her. Nice gig if you can find one like it. The four miles flew by since it was the first conversation that I’d had while hiking. She met us at the trailhead and gifted me a Nutter Butter and a bottle of water. I thankfully downed both. A few moments later I was climbing Bald Knob and they were driving down US 60.

Swamp Irish and Sugar Gal

Bear Bait and I had climbed about 900 feet to meet his wife and I was now faced with a 2,000 foot climb to the top of Bald Knob.It’s absolutely amazing how much the mileage, elevation and time flies by when you are in conversation with someone. At least when you have enough breath to have conversation, that is. I was soon struggling and was actually resting at a switchback when I realized that there were hikers just above me hiking down the mountain.

On the trail those who are climbing have the right of way. It is a rule that I always follow. Once you get your momentum with the weight on your back stopping makes it more difficult to get going again. On this day I was having none of that right of way crap….. I stayed at the switchback and waited for them.

My first ever meeting with hikers from Louisiana. Swamp Irish and Sugar Gal are doing a flip flop hike of the AT like me. I believe that they began in Harper’s Ferry. No that’s not right. He said that they had just “gotten going”. He was dressed for Summer…. she for the Arctic Circle. As with hikers out here they were both enthused and wonderfully friendly.

I couldn’t help but notice how well he was dressed. He was ready for church. It brought back memories of Cliff Powell hiking with us in New Zealand, Greece and the islands on the Aegean Sea. Cliff is the best dressed male on the planet. I always felt like a hobo when traveling with him. Luckily our shared love of history kept us totally in tune but I would never have been selected as “best dressed” while with him. I believe that if he could have worn a tuxedo while hiking he would have. I, of course, harassed him about it because it’s in my nature to do so. After all the intent here is to make all of you think that we are out here doing the most difficult adventure in the world. Dressing too fine makes it look like we’re shopping at the Mall of Georgia. So…. pictures of Cliff tended to downplay what he was wearing especially his footwear…. You know… it’s somewhat disconcerting that he could accomplish all of this so well dressed. I miss him on the hikes.

I Fixed My Hair For All of You

As you may know I’m not a selfie fan although Jan is attempting to train me. The only excuse I have here is that my grandson Sully Garland and I have been swapping conversations and pictures over on Messenger and I needed a picture to send him. You can see that there is no Cliff Powell influence here and Jan is more than likely shielding her eyes seeing my perfect coiffure.

John Kreuegel of Beaufort, South Carolina

I managed to climb another 600 feet before taking a break on a sunny rock. John found me loafing there. I met him earlier when he passed me as he solo climbed. He was on his way by vehicle to Pennsylvania and then to see family in New Jersey. He decided to stop for a bit and climb this 2,000 foot mountain. We were soon in deep conversation and I can tell you that he has a remarkable history of survival through adversity. His fight through struggles has left him strong and in possession of a great attitude especially of gratitude. I found myself talking too long and we both needed to move on….. contact information was exchanged.

The Summit of Bald Knob at 4,059 Feet

Mr Freeze had mentioned days ago that Knobs were not his favorite thing. With a mountain you could normally count on an area of relative flat land to enjoy a hike for a moment but a knob usually isn’t so kind. First you deal with multiple false tops then bam your over the top and headed down. Just like walking over the top of a Coke bottle. Bald Knob was that way …. 4,000 feet down to 3,400 feet and then back up to 4,022 feet.

My Bad…… Dumbo Moment or It’s Just Confusing

Yesterday I described my hike along Cole Mountain and hiking to the pace of Sink the Bismarck. Well I was wrong. It was the pace and the song but I was on Bluff Mountain. These pictures above are the hike along Cole Mountain.

You may ask yourself why bother to correct the error. After all most of you have no idea where I am so I could call it anything I want and get away with it. The problem is that some of those that I have been hiking with are now following the story and they would know that I’ve either developed dementia or enjoy falsifying information. My ability to sell vacuum cleaners or swamp land in Florida could be permanently damaged if I don’t keep these facts straight.

Anyway these are a series of pictures of Cole Mountain which is bald unlike Bald Knob which is not. Seems like Bald Knob should be Cole Knob and Cole Mountain should be Bald Mountain. This is a very serious discussion and indicative of what happens to the mind when left unattended while hiking endless miles.

I ended the day at 16.2 miles at Piney River North Fork. The weather was supposed to become cold and wet with a chance of snow. It was time to get the tent up. I must say that I was only partially successful at doing this. It was well after dark and Vert had taken over. I was staggering around like some out of control drunk. The tent went up but it fought me all the way. Getting water among the rocks was an unbalanced nightmare. But it all got done and with supper cooked and me safely in my sleeping bag I was looking forward to a long winters nap. But wait……. there were no roots and rocks where I put my tent. How did they get there? Is this Vert T. Go’s fault? I found a corkscrew position among the roots and rocks and slept an uninterrupted night of peace.

Tomorrow I would deal with the rain while “hiking on”.

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