Day 16: Two Fire Towers and Feral Pastors

To Rain Walk or not to Rain Walk?

It was still raining when I woke up at 7:30. I knew I had a choice. Wait for the rain to stop and let my gear dry out or pack all my wet gear into my bag, get some miles in, and then dry it out. I chose the latter.

I was out of camp by 8:30. My tent was completely waterlogged and covered in mud. Thus, I became covered in mud. The three others who camped at the same site were still in their tents, unmoving. It was only a drizzle though.

Wayah Bald

Me at the top of Wayah Bald.

I had 1.8 miles to the Wayah Bald parking lot and the lovely latrine and trashcan. I got out of digging a cat hole for the day. I dumped what trash I had produced and made my way to the stone fire tower. The views were great – if only the clouds weren’t in the way.

It’s a nice view, isn’t it?

I headed back down the mountain and was glad neither my knees nor ankles hurt. The majority of the day was spent in the clouds. I also spent the majority of the day debating where I wanted to camp for the night. I figured the disperse camp site before heading down the mountain to Tellico Gap was good. That would make it about a ten-mile day.

The Quiet and Lunch

I didn’t see another thru-hiker besides Atlas, a new blogger, who was leaving camp late. I figured most wouldn’t want to be out due to the weather. It made me curious if the group of people I’ve been hiking with got back out on trail or not. Otherwise, it was mainly day hikers – of which there weren’t many. It was drizzling off and on the entire day.

I made it to Cold Spring Shelter and had lunch. It was the first shelter I’ve seen that was right on trail. It was cute. Lunch lasted a good 30 minutes before I figured it was time to keep going. Plus, I was getting cold. I only had two more miles until my selected place for the night.

Disperse Campsite?

Upon arrival at my ‘final’ destination, I saw that the ground wasn’t quite flat and the site was high enough to still be in the clouds. I can do better. I then set my sight on Wesser Bald Shelter. It was another 3.7 miles away. By this point, the sun that was predicted to shine, wasn’t. I didn’t want to stay in such a wet tent, so I figured a shelter would be better.

The climb down to Tellico Gap made it apparent that I was pushing myself. My right knee and ankle were starting to ache. I relied much more heavily on my trekking poles. By the time I reached the gap, I was physically done for the day. I couldn’t stop there, though, so I started to climb my last mountain of the day, Wesser Bald.

Wesser Bald and Shelter

I called my dad on the hike up and before I knew it, I was at the top. “That is twice today that I have climbed a mountain with a fire tower on top and there is no view but clouds.” I remarked. By this point, I had 0.8 miles to the shelter. It was downhill and I took my time. I passed a water source, filled up, and headed into camp. It was so cloudy, I couldn’t see the shelter until I was fifty feet away. I couldn’t see the people in the shelter until I was inside.

The small group staying at the shelter for the night.

I quickly dropped my stuff and started pulling out everything that got wet. At least my camp clothes and toilet paper stayed dry. Hurray for small miracles. I started on food and chatted with the others there. We all had a lengthy conversation about poop. How could we not? This shelter had two privies.

Feral Pastors

Focusing on eating, I overhear Fine Young Buck, a middle-aged man, say, “He’s the physical therapist, I’m the pastor …” “Wait! You’re a pastor?” I exclaim. “I am.” “My mom’s a pastor too!” “Oh, what denomination?” he asks. “Presbyterian.” “No way! What denomination of Presbyterian?” “I didn’t realize that was a thing.” “PCUSA? P…” “Yes, PCUSA.” “I love your mom already.” The conversation continued and I explained that my mother wasn’t serving at a church due to church politics and their struggle of accepting others. She now works as a chaplain. “I totally understand,” he says. “I’m the one that dismantles a church.” The conversation was so wild, I called my mom to share the news. Fine Young Buck later said, “I’m not a typical pastor. I’m a little feral out here.” I laughed and replied, “I get it. Where to be feral, but the woods?”

The feral pastor – a.k.a. Fine Young Buck.

The day ended with the sun finally showing itself. It got colder, though, so we all headed to our bags to get some rest. I tried falling asleep as I listened to the two guys on either side of me snore away. Maybe I should pull out my tent after all.

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Comments 3

  • Kelli Ramey : Mar 27th

    While you are not yet in Smoky MTN National Park, you are in the smokies. So named for being often in the clouds….or the fog….or closer to heaven…depends on how you choose to look at it.
    But welcome to the smokies and southern appalachia. Many of those who call it home love those days of no views. The views will come:)
    Enjoy your days.
    N GA tree witch lady:)))

  • Dennis C. Hemelt : Mar 28th

    Hello Morgan, i have read a few of your blogs. Thank you for sharing your adventure. I have never taken on an adventure that is so epic as your journey. Stay positive, immerse yourself in the moment. Stay strong and please continue to share your adventure. Dennis

  • Tammy Schmidt : Mar 28th

    See! Pastors can be normal folks, too! Love- mom.


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