Back on The Trail to Nantahala

The Nero in Franklin was a godsend.  We were really cold, wet and tired when we got to Winding Stair Gap.  The rain cleared that afternoon but the cold front came blasting thru and it would have been a really tough camping night with wet stuff.  I am sure some of you wonder about the hitchhiking, stranger danger etc.  I can assure you, if a sketchy van had pulled up and that Helter Skelter on the side and Charles Manson lookalike driving, we would have got in.  Again a big shout out to Emmanuel, (how fitting) for picking us up.  

Grateful Heat Man and Billy Bob in the Emmanuel’s Back Seat

Onward and Upward

We headed out the next morning and had a pretty good climb out of Winding Stair Gap, over 2000 vf, but it was over 4 miles, so not so bad.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  Started out cold but clear and warmed up during the day.  Made it Siler Bald before lunch and the view was stunning.  Check out the 360° video on Instagram @Billybobhikes.  Best view so far. 

View from Silar Bald, Elev 5207′

Went on from there, both up and down to a cool stone Fire Tower at Wayah Bald.  It was a pretty tough 400-500 foot climb in about 0.4 miles.  The  views keep coming.  Again, the 360° video is on Instagram.

Heat Man in the Fire Tower at Wayah, Elev. 5337′

We pushed on to Lick Log Gap to camp that evening and camped at 4400′ and had a great view.  We met a few more hikers, there was a group of 20 somethings and a few others.  Had another really good conversation about mental health with a hiker.  Not as old as me, but had teenage boys at home, and concerned about them.  Really good kids, great grades, have jobs, one of the already has $10K in a Roth IRA.  The conundrum was they don’t get outside and socialize.  Their socialization is mostly online, playing video games.  He knows that’s not good for them, but they have great grades and make their own money, so how hard can you be on them.  I don’t envy parents today in the technological world that we live in today.  About 11:30 or 12:00 that night, a pack of coyotes went off that was within 100 yards of us.  There were at least a dozen of them.  Even though you know coyotes are just scavengers, it really made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  It was kind of hard to go back to sleep for a while.  

Sunrise at Lick Log Gap, Billy Bob likes Sunrises and Sunsets

Trail Magic, It’s Real

Headed out for another fantastic weather day.  Started out cold, got down around 40 and then warmed up with the sun.  Had our first trail magic the next day at Tellico Gap.  Jesse, (trail name Babe), was down at the Gap providing magic to hikers.  He had beer, cokes, mandarins, oranges, cold blue berries and strawberries and took everyone’s trash.  He wash a fisherman and was going fishing on the Tellico River, so we talked fishing for a bit.  Big shout to Jesse.  I declined on the beer, because we had a pretty good climb out the gap to another fire tower at Wesser Bald.  I thought it might be a bad effect on my “Want to ” going up the hill.  After we got up there and started up the tower it dawned on me I should haven taken the beer (he had good taste, Hazy Little Thing) and packed it up the hill and enjoyed on top of the tower.  The rest of the day was downhill. 

Trail Angel, Jesse aka Babe. You’re the Man Babe! Likes to Fish and has great taste!

We made camp that evening a little down the hill at Wesser Bald Shelter.  There wasn’t a flat tent site in the place.  I was very thankful for my hammock setup.  People kept rolling in and the tent sites were tough.  I slept very well, not sure about everyone else.  

The Training Wheels Come Off

The last few days had been great weather, great hiking, and great views.  However, when we got up on the 24th, I was sad for it to be Heat Man’s last day.  It was an all down hill descent, over 2000 vf. in 6 miles down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center.  It wasn’t as hard on the knees as I thought it might be.  Heat Man’s last day hiking was very much like our first, clouds had rolled in, no views, walking in a cloud, and the misting rain.  It has been a fantastic couple of weeks with my true friend.  He provided moral support, technical support as well as comic relief.  I am thankful for the two weeks on trail, but most thankful for his long time friendship.  Friends like Heat Man are hard to come by.  If you have a friends like Heat Man, your are a blessed man.  Hang on to them.  

Heat Man on the descent to Nantahala Outdoor Center. Thank you Heat Man!

Sherri and Lori met us at the NOC, we had a great lunch at the Rivers End Restaurant, Heat Man and I had trout, and we said our good byes.  I will miss him.  Sherri had got us a cool little cabin about 8 miles from the NOC and we will be taking a Zero.  So, far its been great!

Billy Bob likes North Carolina! Cheers!

Tomorrow will be a big climb out of the NOC.  Next stop Fontana Dam and the Great Smokie Mountains!

Until Tomorrow!

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Comments 4

  • John : Apr 26th

    I love this. I assume like most of us in our sixties we have experienced loss. Some more than others. Unfortunately I am on the “some” list. My faith helps even though I am not sure the purpose of it all. Did I say Job? Wanted to do a thru hike forever. This may be as close as I get. Thank you!!!

  • Simon : Apr 26th

    Your adventure is inspiring… would love to do similar one day… please keep the posts coming! Good luck!

  • Trey Futch : Apr 26th

    Go Cary! Always take the beer! 😉 Heat Man is a great friend on the trail and off!

  • jen l : Apr 27th

    Great read and awesome pics!! Thanks for sharing. I envy your journey. Blessings 🙏


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