Wednesday–April 7, 2021
Location–Dick’s Creek Gap, then to Around the Bend Hostel, Gordon & Lisa Simmons, Proprietors
I found the perfect spot to pitch last night, a small crowned-up knoll directly on the ridge just off-trail before Addis Gap. Ended up near a coyote den, found out. After I got camp set, they huffed and barked the longest time before deciding to put up with me.
The gap at Addis swags north-south. I pitched on the east-facing side, so the rising sun comes right away to greet me this morning, “Get up old man; let’s go!” is the not-so-gentle nudge.
Another glorious day shaping up on the high crest of the Blue Ridge, the awe-inspiring Appalachians of North Georgia. I strike camp and am on my way by seven-thirty.
Another mile-long climb first thing, 800 feet up and over Kelly Knob, then past more knobs: Double Spring, and Wolfstake–to finally crest Powell Mountain (and the remarkable vista there). I’m so pleased (say relieved) to find how well this old 1938 jitney is running. These climbs now (many so far, many more to come), I’m able to take in stride. Low gear, half throttle, steady at it–up and over I go. Such a blessing!
Once over Powell, the trail pretty much stays the ridge line. Problem–no water. But, just as I’m wondering and worrying (I’m out of water), out of nowhere, as if a mirage, an incredible piped spring, running volumes of sweet, clear, mountain water!
A klatch of happy, joy-filled young folks have been bippty-boppin past me time and again the past two days. Finally, today I get them slowed down enough as we pass through one of the green tunnels (rhododendron hells) to capture a shot of their shiny faces–thanks kids, HIKE ON!
I also have the pleasure of meeting and talking a bit with Shoes. Strange trail name. Shoes is hiking barefoot (no shoes). Man-oh-man, don’t know about this. These rocks are totally punishing my feet through the fine protective soles of my OBOZ Sawtooth shoes. I actually watched him gingerly glide through this clutter–watched with my own eyes–still don’t believe it! I asked if he’d heard of the barefoot sisters, Isis & Jackrabbit, dear friends, Lucy and Susan Letcher, who hiked the entire AT barefoot, yes BAREFOOT. Lucy has written a delightful book about their hiking adventure, Walking Home.
Descending to Dick’s Creek Gap, and for the longest time, came wafting in the upcurrent–the unmistakable aroma of burgers frying on a grill. And sure enough, arriving, in the parking lot, tables all set up, burgers grillin’! Crossing the highway, in the parking lot I meet Jonathan Daniels, volunteer leader for the Emmanuel Baptist Church Student Ministry (middle and high school students) from Blacksheer, Georgia. They’re here for spring break–set up in a mobile home park (Backyard Bible Club). Ahh, but today they’ve come to Dick’s Creek Gap to lavish trail magic on us hungry hikers–YES! Great idea, Josh Johnson, youth pastor for Emmanuel Baptist–thanks!
Ha, at the picnic table enjoying a mighty fine burger along with me, Highlander, a fellow northbounder. “Been workin’ on reducing my pack weight.” says Highlander. Looks of it he’s planning on sending his combat Bowie knife home!
From Dick’s Creek Gap it’s a short walk “Around the Bend” down US-76 to Around the Bend Hostel, where Nathan’s made arrangements for another night’s stay for me. Great day on the AT today! Yes, a mighty fine day–but all said and done, it’s the people, folks; it’s the people…
It’s the PEOPLE, the places,
The pain and the trials.
It’s the joy and the blessings
That come with the miles.
It’s a calling gone out
To a fortunate few,
To wander the fringes
Of God’s hazy blue.