Friday–May 7, 2021
Location–Spivey Gap/US-19W, then to Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel, Erwin, Tennessee, Charlotte Shores, proprietor, AT Mile 333.1
Our two nights spent at Nature’s Inn Hostel and Cabins were most restful. Taft and Amy have a special place in their hearts for hikers, and after spending a bit of time with them–their commitment to the hiking community is most evident. Thanks dear new friends!
Barry has coffee and breakfast prepared early, but I tarry in order to spend a bit more time with Amy. It’s eight by the time Barry has me back on trail at Sam’s Gap.
Rain had been forecast for the morning and it’s right here. Climbing can be difficult enough when the trail is dry. Today I’ve much climbing, steady up all the way to the mountain expanse that is Big Bald. Claiming the lower extent of the ridge, more old wagon roads, sour apple trees, remnants of the old state line fence, and survey markers. It’s back and forth from North Carolina to Tennessee (and back again) as the trail meanders the ridge.
Nearing the summit of Big Bald the climb become steep and difficult. To add to the difficulty, it has turned bitter cold, the wind has come up–and it’s begun sleeting. As the ice storm continues, the climb up and through the accumulation of ice covered mud becomes increasingly more difficult. Just below the peak, the storm hits it’s peak, coming in a wind-driven rage. I don’t want to stop, but I need to photograph this remarkable scene. Spring is all but over, summer here, but the weather today, this ice storm raises serious doubt as to what season we’re in.
Once over the exposed bald, down the other side in the shelter of the stunted trees, I make a quick stop at Bald Mountain Shelter for lunch before hurrying off the mountain to the warm safety of Barry’s van. A note on Barry’s windshield from Miss Janet, a dear longtime friend here in Erwin. I must call her.
This day has been totally exasperating, yet it’s been most memorable. I’m now entering very special places. At Uncle Johnny’s, Charlotte checks us in. Picture time–thanks Charlotte!
You’re getting into the best of the AT!
(John “Lost & Found” Owen)