4/14 Indian Grave Gap to Clyde Smith Shelter (17.8 miles)
We got off to a later start today because we got a ride from Rob to the trailhead. Our morning started off with a ~1500 ft climb that wasn’t too bad, but I was definitely feeling the long day we did yesterday. The top of the mountain was covered in a dense spruce forest. It was really cool to see that change of scenery, but disappointing because we there wasn’t a cool view from the climb.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, but Bevo and I were both very tired at the end of the day (we took 3 pack off breaks in the last 6 miles). I think it was a mixture of a tough day yesterday and today and the fact that we didn’t get to bed until after 9pm yesterday. Both of us were in our tents by 7:15 tonight.
I definitely like getting an early start and arriving into camp with time to relax before cooking dinner. I am hoping Bevo feels the same way so we can leave together in the morning.
4/15 Clyde Smith Shelter to Overmountain Shelter (15.6 miles)
Bevo and I started the morning off with a long (>2000 ft) climb up Roan mountain. I got quite a bit ahead of Bevo and told him to meet me at the top. I got to the top, which had very disappointing views given the climb, and waited for Bevo. I was up there for 45 minutes before I decided to text Bevo because I didn’t think he was that far behind. It turns out he totally missed the top, and was 1/2 way down the mountain. We agreed to meet at the next gap.
When I got there, Bevo was sitting in a lawn chair enjoying a bag of chips from a couple doing trail magic. Neither of them had hiked the trail, but a friend had told them about it so they decided to give it a try. I sat down and enjoyed two hotdogs and some brownies. They were delicious and surely better than the PB tortilla I planned for lunch. Bevo got cold and decided to start hiking again, while I stayed back and spent some more time talking with the trail angels. The hardest part for me about trail magic is making sure I leave some for the other hikers. I continue to be amazed about how people just show up on the side of the road to do something nice for us. It is awesome.
The views after lunch from the balds were spectacular and surely made up for the lack of views at the top of Roan mountain, particularly since there weren’t any big climbs to get there. It felt a weird enjoying the views without Bevo there, but I guess that’s just part of hiking your own hike.
We hiked 0.3 miles down to the shelter tonight, which is much farther than we would typically go, but this shelter was a converted barn which was supposed to be really cool. I was not disappointed. There were great views and the barn was very cool, I am glad we made the trek.
I am really excited to sleep in the barn tonight. When we got here there were some volunteers from Eastman Chemical working on the drainage around the shelter. The fact that the trail and shelters are all maintained by volunteers doing the hard manual labor is a testament to the community around the trail and the generosity of people.
4/16 Overmountain Shelter to Walnut Mountain Road (19.3 miles)
Yesterday afternoon and this mornings hikes were probably the most beautiful hiking that we have done so far on the trail. We got on top of the balds after Roan mountain and had beautiful views for pretty much the entire time. The hike down today was a particularly great because you were looking out on to all of the other mountains, rather than up the hill you needed to climb.
There was one exception to this mornings hike being awesome. That was a brutal switch back that took us back pretty much exactly the way we came, except 100 feet lower on the mountain, even though we could see where the trail went in front of us. The trail designers probably had a good reason for building it this way, but it’s tough to have that kind of perspective when it feels like you are walking backwards.
The hike down off the balds was pretty uneventful, aside from the fact that we are now officially done hiking in NC and will be in TN for another 70 miles until we enter VA.
Once we got down we headed over to Mountain Harbor B&B and Hostel where Bevo and his wife are staying tonight (she is flying in to meet him). When we got there we inquired about a slack pack and were told they could take us up to the trail crossing that we were going to go to tomorrow. Finishing it off today meant that we could take a zero tomorrow which would give Bevo even more time with his wife.
We quickly gobbled down our lunch and drove to the trailhead to begin our 10 mile southbound slackpack. I always feel a little bit uneasy about doing southbound slackpack, but when the logistics are much easier (as they often are) I will do it. It’s only the second time I have done it, so I hope I continue to keep them to a minimum.
The beginning of the hike was pretty uneventful, but we ran across a few of the people who were a little bit ahead of us, which is always a fun part of a southbound slackpack. Around 2 we reached a stream and the minute we saw it was deep enough to swim, Bevo and I decided we needed to cool off. It took us about 1/2 mile down the trail to find a good spot, but we found one. The water was very cold, but it still felt very good to rinse off and cool down.
The rest of the hike was uneventful, but when we arrived back to the hostel a man that Bevo had talked at the last shelter (see his blog for more details on Lost Gear http://www.postholer.com/journal/Appalachian-Trail/2016/BevoHi/2016-04-15/Day-27-Over-Mountain-Barn-Shelter/54362) was stopping at the local BBQ place before he headed off. We asked if we could join him and off we went.
The BBQ was pretty good and I ate a lot (1/2 pound of pork, 6 hush puppies, and 1/2 an order of large cheese fries). I felt quite full right after eating it, but within 30 minutes I felt fine. My hiker hunger is here to stay I think.
Since we are taking a zero tomorrow and I didn’t really feel like staying 2 nights in the hostel, I walked the 1/3 mile back up to the trail after taking a shower in Bevo’s room (his wife didn’t arrive until later that evening) to set my tent up and sleep there for the night.
As you can probably tell by the length of the post, today was probably my favorite day of the trail yet. It had great views, swimming, spectacular weather and real food. I hope I have many more days like this one.
Another remainder to look at Bevo’s blog if you’re interested (www.http:// postholer.com/bevohi)