Angels, paradise, and entering Narnia: the second 100 miles.

My mobile service is via T Mobile and I hardly ever have any signal with them, although other hikers with different providers have better luck. So unless it improves as I move north, updates will remain very occasional.

Day 9: Angels, hallelujah

For the first time I left my backpack in the shelter rather than my tent as it was raining. About 2.00am I suddenly woke up with the realisation that I had left snacks in my hip belt pockets and so had to get up to sort it. There was a blanketing wet mist diffusing a full moon through the trees. Really beautiful and compensation for my stupidity and having to get up.

I was tired after yesterday but pushed on and after a while found my legs again. However, I was conscious that I have been running a calorie deficit and unsure if I had sufficient food in my pack until the next resupply. Enter trail angels! Three wonderful guys (Schweddy, Day Drinker, and Microburst) were at the foot of the big climb to Wayah Bald with a fantastic spread of food and drink. They cooked me two veggie burgers and gave me fruit and even offered beer. They met up on the trail in 2022 and so knew how much this would be appreciated by me and other thru hikers that day. In later days I met other hikers who raved about those guys and even writing about this now and remembering their generosity and good company, makes me emotional.

The climb up Wayah Bald was so much easier after that. The usual tranquility of the trail was replaced by the sound of gunshots to the west all the way up.

Day 10: Bald Eagle at campsite

There are no level tent spots at Wayah Bald campsite. I spent a cold night sliding in two directions. But a sunny day gave fantastic views from the fire tower on Wessex Bald. This was followed by a long and fairly technical descent. The initial part of this was in scenery very different from anything we had seen before. Narrow rocky ridges with big drops on both sides, and because of past fires, a lot of dead trees as well as areas of flattened vegetation which another hiker later told me were probably the result of a meteorological phenomenon call micro bursts. Where new pine was growing, there was the wonderful spring scent, long ago approximated by big business in their laundry products bb

A good day topped off by an American bald eagle flying low over the campsite trees at dusk.

Day 11:  Double Americana breakfast

Everyone camping at Rufus shelter descended the mile to the NOC, a mecca for white water rafting, but for us the attraction was breakfast in the diner there. I had two breakfasts! Finishing with pancake and syrup, with American football and basketball playing on the screens and a waitress refilling my coffee cup, I could be nowhere but the USA.

Before leaving the NOC, I visited the rest room and had a terrible shock. There was a grizzled old man in there starring at me. The first time I had looked in a mirror since before starting the AT.

It was Good Friday. A good time for reflection as I made my way up the mighty Cheoah Bald. I thought a lot about our son John, whose hat hopefully will make its way with all the way to Maine.

Day 12: A campsite prowler

In the morning I discovered that I was not the only camper at Locust Cove awakened by an animal prowling around the tents after 2.00am for about 20 minutes. Initially I thought it was not loud enough to be a bear, but have since found out they are quite stealthy. The adrenaline did not make it easy to go back to sleep.

At the campsite, it was one of the rare occasions that my T Mobile got a signal and I arranged to stay at Creekside Paradise. However, when I got to Yellow Creek Gap, of course there was no signal there for me to arrange a pick up. Luckily, Joe and Mika, who I first met on Albert Mountain, arrived at the same time. They were going off trail for Easter Day and their friend Mike who picked them up, very kindly gave me a lift to the graded road. I walked up the short hill to Creekside Paradise.

The name was not false advertising. A wonderful place, with very kind hosts, Cynthia and Jeff. They have a posse of dogs that bark at everything and keep the bears away, but are very friendly.  I camped in the garden on a level mossy spot. Definitely the best campsite I have had so far.

Day 13: Easter Sunday

My first rest day even though I was itching to get going again, I knew it would be good for my body and it gave me the chance to catch up with my family and post on my blog as I had use of the internet. It was also nice to catch up with some people I had mostly met previously. Branches, Tango Mike, who had already hiked 423 miles to get to the AT, Geoff and Mary, Chris (an enthusiast for life who cooked a wonderful meal for the non vegetarians), Celery, Fern, and Rogi. I could have happily stayed for longer, but the trail called. More specifically the Smokey Mountains. The weather forecast was for heavy rain and thunderstorms, followed by snow.

Day 14: Entering the Smokies 

The day started well on yellow creek road with my first ever sighting of a wild turkey, shortly followed by two bald eagles (thanks to Cynthia for spotting them). It was 1 April and it seemed spring had arrived (but next post will reveal that winter was not done yet). There were so many flowers, butterflies and other insects out in the sun. Then coming off the north end of Fontana dam, I saw my first two deer of the trail just before entering the Smokey Mountains. I had been way too enthusiastic with my resupply and had my heaviest pack ever for my biggest day so far of nearly 20 miles and 6,000 feet of climb. I bumped into Joe and Mika again, who had also taken the Sunday off and ended the day together at Mollies Ridge shelter where I caught up with Geoff, Mary and Chris from Creekside Paradise.

Day 15: A storm is coming

Originally heavy rain and storms were forecast for the afternoon. It was another tough day with over 5,000 feet of climb and would have been so much harder in the storm, which held off until the day’s hiking was over. Leaving the shelter in the morning, a French Canadian women headed south by a mistake but was luckily called back before she had gone too far. It is something that happens more often than you would expect. It was a cold day, but it did not deter the woodpeckers who can often be heard in the woods. I stopped to make a sound recording of two woodpeckers who were furiously trying to outdrum each other. The character of the trail changed today with little grassy clearings on the tops. By the evening the wind was howling. A very late arrival at the shelter in the dark, was the Canadian, One Ear. He had been hiking slowly all day in the hope of getting close enough to a road to get off the trail for good. After slipping in the rain the previous week he had injured his ankle. He had rested two days and the struggled on. Now he was throwing in the towel and hated the AT. All he wanted to do was to get back to Canada. I hope he made it off the trail the next day given what was to follow, but it would have been challenging.

Day 16: Storm followed by three milestones on the AT

When the storm came in the night we were very happy to be under cover. The rain was furious for hours and although not a lot of close thunder and lightning, there were a lot of long rumbles in the distance. Some rain got on my sleeping bag but overall we got off rather lightly. The morning after the storm was wet underfoot and cold. Most of the morning and early afternoon was drizzle or rain. The landscape changed to dense pine forest carpeted with dripping wet moss; my childhood imagining of Narnia. It was very atmospheric in the misty gloom. Today I passed the 200 mile mark and the highest point on the trail at Clingmans Dome (6,644 ft), and also made my third state, Tennessee (although for some miles ahead the trail switches between North Carolina and Tennessee a few times). As I passed through the state border at Newfound Gap, the skies had cleared and it was thronging with tourists. Several of them asked if I was doing the AT and wanted to know all about it. It was really nice. A stiff climb from there took me to Icewater shelter at just under 6,000 feet. The name was prophetic.

Coming next:

How do you like your drink? With ice or salamander? Mice and frozen shoes and socks, eclipse and more.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 4

  • Chris : Apr 9th

    Loving the updates (which I’ve read aloud to Laura). Enjoying the pictures.

    • Michael Beecher : Apr 12th

      Thanks. And thanks for your and Laura’s support for N.

  • Richard Harper : Apr 10th

    Lovely to hear how you are getting on Michael and loving the illustrations. Will you be writing a book about your adventure when you get back?

    • Michael Beecher : Apr 12th

      Thanks Richard. I am not expecting to do anything further with this when I am done. Just enjoying the journey.


What Do You Think?