Saturday–May 8, 2021
Location–Unaka Springs Road/Nolichucky River, then to Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel, Erwin, Tennessee, Charlotte Shores, proprietor, AT Mile 344.2
Were out from Uncle Johnny’s in good order, headed for breakfast at Clarence’s Diner, Main Street, Erwin. Small talk on our ride back as Barry delivers me to the trail at Spivey Gap/US-19 West. I absolutely dread these moments, goodbye times. Barry is headed back home today. He’s got an eight-hour drive to Alabama. How can one ever even begin to repay a dear friend for such generosity and kindness? So long, Barry; be safe–God Bless You!
The hike on in to Erwin is mostly a green tunnel sideslab in and out of the steep mountain coves and ravines that lift these rugged mountains to the heavens. I’ve great energy this morning and am moving quite briskly (for an old codger), making good time. I deal with two unscheduled stops, however, a total faceplant from toe-hooking a root, another caused by the same problem with a rock.
Stopping for lunch at No Business Knob Shelter, I chance to meet Sour, another fellow trekker headed for Katahdin. Gentle and kind young fellow. We talk about our pasts, our futures. Sour is planning a career in anthropology; wants to tour the world, learn the languages. He has that unmistakable gleam in his eye. Sure bet is, he’ll pull it off!
A couple fine vantages of Erwin on the descent to the Nolichucky River and Uncle Johnny’s Hostel. The mountain laurel are budding now, many in full bloom, the first I see this journey.
I’m greeted by many young northbounders at the gathering spot at Uncle Johnny’s. And what a wonderful surprise–Ed Not to Worry Speer and wife, Karen, have driven almost two hours from their home in Marion to greet me (and to bring me a box of donuts). Ed was also here to greet me when I arrived Erwin during my southbound ECT trek in 2000. He spent time with me, hiked some with me that year. That was October 29th and 30th, 21 years ago, my 62nd birthday. Not to Worry was sitting then, waiting patiently at one of the many little foot bridges just north of the river. He greeted me (as did he and Karen greet me again today) with a box of donuts! What a wonderful moment, then and now. This day has turned around quite nicely!
Evening, Ed & Karen, (and another dear friend from long ago, Dee Birdee Landau, now also here in Erwin hiking north)–we get together for a great time at Primo’s Italian Cuisine in Erwin. Ed and Karen treat us to supper.
Yet, another sad goodbye time as they deliver me back to Uncle Johnny’s. Ahh, but Birdee remains and we’ll hike north together, across the Nolichucky River–tomorrow…
Bid good-by to sweetheart,
bid good-by to friend;
The Lone Trail, the Lone Trail follow to the end.
Tarry not, and fear not, chosen of the true;
Lover of the Lone Trail
the Lone Trail waits for you.