Day 22 – A View Full of Fog

Day 22

Start: Nantahala Outdoor Center

End: Locust Cove Gap

Miles Hiked: 10.5

Miles on AT: 147.6


Last night, I stayed in a simple, one room cabin a few minutes from the Nantahala Outdoor Center, so I caught a ride around 9 am to get back. Since I’d gotten in right as things were closing yesterday, I didn’t really get a chance to look around. This morning, I took a peek at the gear store and convenience store before getting back on trail.

Rain was in the forecast today. I wasn’t too happy about that, but I just hoped it would stay light and resigned myself to my fate. After a few steps back on trail, I stopped to adjust my shoes and pack. A familiar, raspy voice called out to me. Turning to look, and it was an old face from the past. Remember the hiker who was blind that I had mentioned earlier? It was him!

We chatted and caught up a bit; a few of the people we had been around were already past the Smokies. He was still on trail and enjoying it, and was going to take a zero day and enjoy the NOC. It was so good to see him and know that he was doing well.

Continuing on the trail, I had 10.5 miles to complete and almost 4,000 feet of vertical gain to conquer. My goal was to take it easy today, and that’s just what I did. I didn’t have any time pressure and I knew I could complete the miles well before sundown, so there was no need to stress.

The climb out of the NOC wasn’t unbearable, but it was persistent. About an hour into my hike, it started to rain in earnest. I put on a cheapo poncho that I had bought in Franklin to test out. It took me a few tries to throw it completely over my pack, but eventually I got everything covered.

I wasn’t moving quickly by any means, and I was content with that. At least 5 people passed me on the uphill. As the hours continued, so did the rain. I found a spot sheltered under a rock ledge to have a brief snack (thank you, rock formation), then kept moving.

Up & up & up. The bright green moss came alive in the rain, the rocks slick and shiny. The further I got, the thicker the foliage and the narrower the trail became. I was gifted a few views; the dense, rain-bearing clouds encircled the mountains, making for one of my favorite types of views.

Despite being seemingly near the top, the climb continued and so did I. Soon, I was in the clouds, enveloped by a cold mist. Everything was wet; I wasn’t sure what was rain and what was sweat. But, my poncho was doing a pretty good job of keeping things dry.

After many false tops, I finally reached the peak – of the first climb. Before I knew it, a wind swept through and the temperatures dropped. Luckily, it had stopped raining, but I needed to put on my warm gear quickly. I took advantage of the break in the rain to sit down and eat my lunch.

Now it was time for the second climb, but luckily the weather had improved and the climb was much more pleasant. I was brought through a misty, foggy, moss-covered paradise – another fairy-tale world. I stopped so many times to examine the wide variety of mosses and lichen growing on the trees and rocks all around me. So much biodiversity!

At the top, Cheoah Bald, I was greeted by a mysterious fog that wouldn’t reveal the secret view behind it. I loved it! For a while, I was descending while lost in the clouds. Eventually, the sun came out and warmed things up. I arrived at my destination, Locust Cove Gap, and was greeted by a warm campfire and even warmer company.

I had gotten in relatively early (~4:00 pm), so I spent a good chunk of the evening chatting with the other hikers and being entertained by the fire. One of the hikers, Billy Bob, is actually a blogger here on The Trek, too. Check out his posts here.

All too soon, the night fell, and it was time to go to sleep. 


And that’s day 22.


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