Changes To The Plan

Franklin to the NOC

After a long rain delay, we hike out of the Franklin area. Delayed due to heavy storms and the possibility of death by lightning but updated on all of our HGTV shows we took the shuttle to Winding Stair Gap. The legs were definitely heavy and so was the food bag but it felt so good to be out in the woods again!! We were up for the weather but had no clue high winds and some sleety crap were going to change our day. Nothing like the temp dropping as the winds pick up while you’re climbing uphill and the weather gods decide to drop pellets of ice on you!! Welcome to the Appalachian Trail my friends! We stopped just long enough to throw on some gear and hike onwards to the campsite. We all cooked in our tents/vestibules and tucked in for the long cold night. The trail weather is probably the most unpredictable thing in the world! One moment freezing and the next day 80 degrees and sunny. Try to dress for that!
At some point during the last week or so, maybe during the sleety shit, Joyce decided to head home. She is a bad ass 70 year old section hiker who was completely honest with herself and said thru hiking isn’t for me but I’ll be back doing sections. So from NOC on it’s just me folks, along with Kate aka Hershey! We will meet up again to hike the Smokies

Hiking Alone
When I hiked 3 years ago I saw myself as a thru hiker turned section hiker. I didn’t think that I had it in me to spend months out in the woods hiking at my pace which is slower than the younger crowd…no shit. So I came home. A couple times. Every time I went back out I loved it more but still didn’t have the confidence to do this thing. Now I realize what I missed before this. It’s freaking mindset folks! Slow, older, people hike this trail as well as speedy zippy young people all reaching the end with the same silly thought, I knew I could and I damn well did it! I now have that same mindset. Not to say I won’t trip over a rock or tree root because I’m looking at the flowers or lichen growing on a tree, fall and break a face or something but I seriously believe that I am capable of hiking this bitch!

The Climb Down Into the NOC

I cried like a baby the whole way down that trail then. Three years ago I cried out of fear during most rocky open climbs up or down.  I hate and fear open heights and that section is rife with rocks and drop offs. This time I kicked ass and took it’s name. I plan on doing that a lot this time.  That is all.

Hiker Friends

Since I’m hiking this section alone I gravitate towards other hikers more. Lol who am I kidding, I’m a social butterfly out here! Met up and hiked with some great folks, Cheeseburger and Jolly are two of the best ones! Met some wackos out there too but they shall remain nameless at the moment! Jolly is currently carrying a 1lb canned ham. Yes, folks, on a trail when everyone is cutting weight out of their packs, he is carrying a ham! Now he says he’s taking it to Maine but after seeing and lifting his food bag I’m guessing it won’t make it to Tennessee! Cheeseburger is 72 and kicks “young” ass going uphill! I’m sure I’ll see them both again up trail. 

Fontana Dam 

Hiked into Fontana after breaking camp in the absolute worst downpour. I was going to leisurely relax since I wasn’t meeting Hershey until the next day but nope! Rain, loud hikers packing up and few kicked guy lines on my tent forced me to grab my umbrella and head for the shelter to pack up and get ready. My tent is a DD Tarp Tent which is crazy light but small even for my short self! I’ve grown to love it’s cozy atmosphere but in the rain I can barely maneuver in it. Add in my rickety old knees and packing my pack inside of it is nearly impossible but I’m sure hysterical from the outside!  I waited for a break in the rain and set off. It was gorgeous with spring popping up everywhere! Flowers, bushes and trees are all budding in the mountains and I love all of it! At some point I remembered that the shuttle from the marina to the village actually has a schedule and after a quick phone check I saw 12 as the next pickup and it’s 1150 and well, it’s 2.8 miles downhill! Somehow I ran down that trail to hikers waiting for the shuttle who all turned  and clapped, yelling, you made it!! This folks, is what it’s all about some days.  Not what’s for dinner or on TV or who said what at work but simply happy to make a shuttle. Out here the simple things win! 

The Hike Inn

Hershey and I planned our stay here. A wonderful Inn which exclusively caters to hikers. Very small but worth it.  We ate dinner with the owner, Nancy, and slept in great rooms. Highly recommend staying here, call ahead and be nice. Tomorrow it’s the start of The Smokies! That’s the Great Smokey Mountain National Park to those that don’t live here. Despite having done this section before this is daunting in the remote aspect of the park.  Gaps with roads won’t be as common as they have been and cell service is found on mountain tops. Looking to make it through to Newfound Gap for a quick resupply and finish this section in a timely manner as I have lots of trail to do that I have not done previously! As always stay tuned, there’s more fun to follow! 



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Comments 2

  • DEB : Apr 20th

    Really enjoying your posts. Keep them coming. You’ve had some crazy weather out there. Stay safe & dry!

  • Julie Jones : Apr 26th

    I’m so proud of you! The fear of heights and snakes is so real! I’m working on the height thing. I got over (mostly) the snake thing by reading other people’s encounters with them.

    So when I read that you kicked ‘open heights’ ass and took it’s name! It gave me hope. I REALLY want to walk the AT. I’m hoping to do it for my 64th birthday!! Maybe I’ll see you there .

    Happy Trails. And Thank you for writing this👆


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