Six: Tennessee/North Carolina and some bad weather?
May 15th, 1983
Steve and I Got up and out of "our house" early.
We definitely did not want to be found squatting by the builder, or the owner
in their fancy new home that was not finished yet. The day was mostly uneventful
except for the views to be had at Little and Big Balds as we hiked to No Business
Knob Shelter for the night. Steve wanted some hotel/motel time in Erwin, Tennessee,
and left not long after arriving at the shelter to continue on for a few more
miles to reach Erwin. I'll get there too; tomorrow I will head for town for Pizza
Hut and a shower, but most of all for expectation of cards and letters from home.
I must conserve my money so I opted to stay at the shelter to avoid paying for
find myself alone here this evening. It is very peaceful and I love it! I have
finished my supper, and I have my sleeping arrangements laid out...my closed cell
foam pad under my sleeping bag to give me a little comfort on this nice wooden
floor. I have my pack leaning up against the back wall behind me and I am sitting
with my back up against the pack like a backrest. From this position I can write
in my journal and survey the view outside the fornt of the shelter like a king.
One of my subjects just strolled by, a young doe. And now another one showed up.
So quiet, and only interested in one thing, getting something to browse upon.
It is amazing how close these creatures are to me right now! It is as if they
don't even know that I am here. This trip is getting better every day!
(Steve Poole on Big Bald)
(View North from Big Bald)
(Looking back at summit of Big Bald)
(Deer at No Business Knob Shelter)
May 16th, 1983
Woke up to a raging rain storm but even that couldn't dampen
my spirits. I put all of my rain gear on and headed out for my six mile hike to
Erwin, Tennessee. By the time I got to the road I was swimming in my own sweat.
Are rain suits really very effective? So far I can find no one able to stay dry
in the rain - even in a rainsuit. Most people eventually live with the fact that
they will get wet and hike that way. Additionally, hiking without a rainsuit leaves
more room for food in the pack!
I got to the road I took off my rain gear and hiked in shorts and a short sleeve
shirt. I hiked about three miles and arrived in Irwin by 11:00am.
a guy down and asked for directions to the post office. Instead of telling me,
he gave me a ride to the P.O., waited for me to get my mail and then drove me
to Pizza Hut! He was a real nice guy! While I waited for my Cavatini Supreme,
I changed into some dry clothes before pigging out. After "The Hut",
I did laundry, finished my letter, and shopped. With all that, my town duties
were finished so I headed toward Nolichucky Expeditions along the Nolichucky River,
where I showered for a buck. Not wanting to spend any more money there, my fresh
and clean body hiked to Curley Maple Gap Shelter which was 3.5 miles up the trail.
At the shelter I found Steve, Kathy, Bruce and Claudia Gross. They squeezed me
into the shelter and sleep came fast. I only covered 10 miles today, but had a
great town stop. Not Bad!
May 17th, 1983
A cold front came in last night causing the temperature
to remain cool all day. Perfect hiking weather!
long into the day I arrived at what is known as Beauty Spot. Everything I have
heard about the place is announcing how beautiful it is. My impression of the
place is of a bucolic landscape, a large open field
angled up a slight slope.
I often wondered if we, as a species, find this type of landscape so pleasant
because the cradle of civilization looked just like this? Seemingly endless grassy
fields dotted with brush and trees. Perhaps that is why we have mono-cultures
surrounding our homes in the suburbs. I; however, prefer thick lush forests with
high mountain peaks standing as sentinels guarding the land. I did not even get
my camera out.
hiked to Iron Mountain Gap (15 mi) where I followed the road down to the grocery
store (.8 mile off the trail) and ate a half gallon of ice cream and drank one
bottle of strawberry soda. I then proceeded to hike six miles to Clyde Smith Shelter
for a total of 21 miles. Fantastic!!
May 18th, 1983
Got off to a late start. Hiked up to Roan Mountain (or what I call
"Groan" Mountain) and nearly died - the climb was so intense.
I've been very tired all day as a result. I started out the ascent
alone, but caught up with Claudia so I hiked the remainder up to
the top with her. We parted company near the summit as I headed
to Roan Highland Shelter. I was treated to some beautiful views
from Roan High Knob, and some of the nearby balds. I was impressed
at the sight of the great fields on and surrounding Jane Bald. you
might ask how is this different than Beauty Spot. Well, Beauty Spot
was not as grand a scale as the balds, and the balds still fit into
the description of "standing as sentinals" and were surrounded
by lush forests. The worst part about Roan High knob is that it
is easily accessible by road and therefor not as exclusive as other
peaks. This aspect makes Roan High and its rhododendron gardens
"an easy hike" for those in an automobile. Quite a scenic
spot though. I want to take Dia there someday.
(Four views from Jane Bald)
It was quite cold today and very windy. It should prove to be a
chilly night. Tomorrow I will head into Elk Park, North Carolina
for a post office stop, and maybe groceries if I decide I need some.
Some killer climbs today - even though I did only 10 miles, I am
Thursday May 19th, 1983
Last Night it started to rain about midnight. The way this shelter
is situated the wind began blowing the rain in. Battling the high
winds, I hung my tarp across half of the front of the shelter. I
placed my rainfly down the middle and held it at the botom with
some rocks I found on the ground outside. The wind became so fierce
during the night that the rocks couldn't hold the rainfly down any
longer, so at about 3:00am I found found myself outside searching
for some larger (huge) rocks that managed to secured it - at least
in that area.
My alarm woke me at 6:00am only to find the rainfly had been blown
loose from the top this time, and my sleeping bag was beginning
to get wet. By then it was getting light enough that I could see
well enough to secure it for good. For good? Yes, I am still at
the shelter. Here, in this saddle, I figure the winds are much lighter
than on the mountain tops: so if the winds are high here, then the
top of the next few mountains (which are balds with no vegetation
to block the wind) they must be awesome! I am forced to stay here
for the day.
The forecaster said sunny and warmer tomorrow. No matter what the
weather does - I'm leaving tomorrow. This idleness is driving me
nuts. Today I listened to the radio and read a sci-fi book that
Mark had given me. In the book there were a group of Lords who had
created a world in which they had built floating castles where they
lived. One of the characters was named urbano, or something like
that. The sound of the radio and the fantasy were the only two things
which kept my sanity. Sitting in a shelter all day long in weather
like this is a killer! ....... It is now 4:12pm and I am very bored.
I am beginning to understand how Dia might be feeling at home by
herself. With nothing else to do, I began writing a letter to my
grandfather telling him all about what I had been seeing over the
sent to Jos. O. Montville postmarked May 21, 1983 in Elk Park, NC)
of books left inside shelters along the trail.... I have seen my
share of small bibles and other religious materials left by do-gooders,
but never found any of it worth reading, or useful. I cooked with
a small stove, but in emergencies, that paper could become useful
as firestarter I thought. One book I did pick up cronicled the life
of Albert Einstein. I read that one cover to cover before leaving
it in another shelter for another traveler to become enlightened
May 20th, 1983
Got up at 6:30am this morning, packed all of my gear, and
headed for U.S.19E and Elk Park seven miles up the trail. I arrived down at the
highway by 11:30am. Along the way, I saw some beautiful views while on the Hump
Mountains. These balds never cease to amaze me. I could not imagine what it must
have been like yesterday with the high winds on the summits.
(Little Hump Mountain)
Page 79 of the Tennessee - North Carolina AT (Sixth Edition) guidebook
says that Elk Park, North Carolina is 1.5 miles west on Rt. 19E.
Bullshit!! It is east, and I found out the hard way. I corrected
it in my guidebook after the fact. Once I got into town I located
the post office and was greeted by two care packages and numerous
letters from home. I never knew that I was so loved!! Even Pep wrote
a letter. Pep, short for Pepere, is my Grandfather. I'm worried
about him 'cause he is losing his eyesight and motor functions in
his old age. I finished my letter to him, thankful that I had written
the day before, then sent the letter I had penned, and smiled while
thinking about him.
up on my provisions, and decided to get a hotel room to dry out
all of my gear. I called home, and Dia and Pep were both glad to
hear from me. I was happy to hear that Dia's knee was getting better
and may have only been a badly bruised muscle, and soon she will
be functioning normally again.
May 21st, 1983
This morning I got a ride to the trailhead from Ronnie Harrison,
who picked me up before I had walked too far along Rt 19E. We chatted about my
journey during the short time it took to reach the trailhead, and then as I was
shouldering my pack and shaking his hand in thanks, he asked me to write when
I complete the trail.
was back hiking on the trail by about 12:00 noon, and reached Don Nelan Shelter
by 1:30pm. That was rather early I thought, so I decided to push on to the next
shelter. Besides, I had only hiked about five miles for the day by then. Unfortunately,
the trail became quite rough and muddy. Then to top it off, it started raining
on me a few hours beyond that first shelter. I finally stepped into Moreland Gap
Shelter by 7:00pm, and met a lady thru-hiker from Toronto, Canada named Pat Guthrie.
Claudia walked into the shelter out of the darkness at about 11:00pm with another
thru-hiker named Steve Rohrbeck. Seems she really gets into that night hiking
thing. Claudia was wearing an all Gor-Tex rain suit. The state of the art at the
time, and I thought that gear must be expensive. I had gotten to know Claudia
over the past week, and felt Claudia to be like the little sister that I never
had. She liked to tell stories, and giggled a lot. Always up to some adventure,
I never knew where she would turn up or in which direction she would be going.
It was fun to have her around and we got along well I thought.