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.

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