ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Yes folks, Nimblewill has laced up his Oboz trekkers and is shouldering his Murmur backpack
one more time–for the last, last time!

This year’s odyssey will be known as “Odyssey 2021 ‘Bama to Baxter – Hike On.”  This will be the ultimate journey in this old man’s life, one of body, mind and spirit.

This trek begins at Flagg Mountain, the southernmost mountain in the Appalachians
Mountain Range. From Flagg he’ll follow the Pinhoti Trail through northeast Alabama into
Georgia where he’ll connect with the Benton MacKaye Trail–which leads to Springer Mountain
in north Georgia. On Springer Mountain he’ll pick up the Appalachian Trail and hike it on to
Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
Journal entries and photos will be posted often. Gonna be another predictively unpredictable
Nimblewill Odyssey – Bama to Baxter 2021 Hike On.

Sure be great to have y’all come along…

Journal 82-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Wednesday–May 12, 2021
Trail Day–082
Trail Mile–6.4/797.6
Location–Carver’s Gap, then to the VRBO near Hampton, AT Mile 380.5

Another night lounging in the lap of luxury at the VRBO provided by Maggie. I slept ever so soundly in my own private room w/bath. “Spoiled” does not describe the care I’ve been receiving! Clean clothes (and body), full tummy, comfortable warm bed. It all seems too good to be true; but I’m living it!

We’re greeted at dawn with rain, again; steady and cold. Time to give this day more time. Easy enough! Maggie finally calls me to breakfast a little before eight. A look at the radar, not good. A consolidated, massive storm is slowly moving through, regenerating and passing ever-so-slowly east. Decision is to give it till noon before heading back on trail at Hughes Gap Road.

12:30, Maggie has us (Janet and I), bundled in our foul weather gear and back on trail. We later find that delaying our departure today–right decision! The road to Cloudlands has been closed due to snow.

We’ve a difficult, steady climb up to the old Cloudlands Hotel site at 6,000 feet. The rain continues the entire time, and it’s turned bitter cold. Cloudlands? Appropriately named. We’re totally engulfed in the cloud shroud. The old ruins are gone now, nothing to see. The Catawba Rhododendron (the beautiful red flowering plant for which Roan is famous) are nowhere near their blooming stage. The mountain is forbiddingly dark and cold. We pause briefly for a photo of the sign that describes the place (half ripped out of the ground), and we move on.

Near the side trail to Roan Mountain shelter were greeted by Maggie, who has hiked up from Carver’s Gap to greet us. No time is wasted descending.

Evening, back at the VRBO, I take a hot shower and put on some dry clothes before Maggie loads me and we head for Texas Roadhouse in Johnson City for their fine steak dinner.

An okay day. That’s about it…

 

 

There are no bad days on the trail,
Some just better than others.
(N. Nomad)

Journal 81-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Tuesday–May 11, 2021
Trail Day–081
Trail Mile–9.6/791.2
Location–Hughes Gap Road, then to the VRBO near Hampton, AT Mile 374.1

The beautiful mountain home (VRBO) rented for three days by Maggie is total luxury. Everything has been considered. Janice had even brought her special lasagna for supper, which they prepared in the luxurious kitchen, then served in the dining room. My room? Huge king-size bed, private bath with both hot tub and shower.

Maggie prepares a fine breakfast for me then drives Janice and me back to Iron Mountain Gap. Janice will be hiking with me to Hughes Gap, a short 9+ mile day. We’re on trail just after eight. Cloudy and cold this morning for our climb up and over Piney Bald and Iron Mountain. The clouds finally break early afternoon and we’re afforded a great view from Little Rock Knob.

Maggie has driven around to Hughes Gap Road and hikes in to meet us. We enjoy our hike together as we gather ramps to fry for supper.

Ahh, and supper (back again at the VRBO) prepared by Maggie–venison burgers, compliments of Mark, Maggie’s husband. Evening, I relax in the hot tub, spend time with Maggie and Janice, then work my journal before hitting the (huge) sack…

 

My tastes are simple,
I am easily satisfied with the best.
(Winston Churchill)

Journal 80-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Monday–May 10, 2021
Trail Day–080
Trail Mile–11.9/791.2
Location–Iron Mountain Gap, then to a beautiful VRBO (details later), AT Mile 364.5

What a blessing to be in and out of it last night, to be warm and dry. Though it was Sunday, and Mother’s Day to boot, Charlotte came all the way up to Indian Grave Gap to get me and bring me back to Uncle Johnny’s. And since Barry’s gone home, the top bunk in Cabin A unoccupied, I’d invited Birdee to come down off the mountain and spend the night. Ahh, and the patter of rain on the tin roof of little Cabin A? Lulled us both quickly to restful sleep.

Donuts provided by Ed and Karen, V-8 by Barry, we’re both energized for today. Charlotte is back to get us right at eight sharp, then to shuttle us back to Indian Grave Gap. Birdee and I are packs up and headed on north toward Beauty Spot and Unaka Mountain by 8:30. Forecast has been for off-and-on rain–it’s on. Our rock and root climb up and over Beauty Spot and Unaka, we’re totally engulfed in the shroud, no views from the sky-loft vantage that is Beauty Spot. But please, folks, I’m not complaining, not in the least–because this journey, this “Odyssey 2021” has been (and is) totally charmed. During the 80 days I’ve been out here, this entire time I’ve suffered (if you want to call it that) count-on-one-hand the total number of bad weather days! So, no grand gawking from Beauty Spot (I was blessed with clear skies on previous journeys through). But Unaka Mountain? The rain, the mist-laden fog-clouds just added to the mystic spell of the majestic coniferous boreal forest that occupies the uppermost reaches of Unaka.

Birdee and I have hiked this entire day together, her pace slowed, mine sped up the least (still in my comfort/safe zone) and what a grand time it’s been. We’ve talked and talked, encouraged each other this day. At Iron Mountain Gap, Birdee hikes on–and I end my trek for this day. Thank you my dear old (renewed) friend. It’s been a very happy day!

Late evening, having driven nearly the entire day from Alabama, Maggie Wade Johnston and her friend, Janice Barrett, arrive Iron Mountain Gap to load this wet, muddy old excuse for a hiker and carry him away to Hampton, Tennessee, to a luxurious home in the mountains, a vacation rental by owner (VRBO) so thoughtfully (and lovingly secured) by Maggie. Even after I take photos of this retreat, and show you (tomorrow’s journal), I doubt you’ll believe your eyes. Glory be, Maggie, thank you!

 

 

I can no other answer make, but, thanks,
and thanks, and ever thanks.
(Shakespeare)

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