Hawk Mountain Shelter: The place people forget to hike out trash.

After a downpour at Stover, many hikers left out early for a bid to Gooch. Others sort of milled around, packing their packs in the rain for the first time. “Nothing like carrying around a bunch of water that you can’t drink”, I exclaimed.

Dr. Green Thumb, Dan, his dog, Timber, Zorro and I hoofed out for a soaked near-o (5.4) to Hawk mountain. The foggy hike saw a beautiful set of falls, the cemetery, and a ton of mud. It quickly proved to be too much for our masked hero, Zorro. He fell behind instantly, while the rest of the group took our time, trying to buy him a little ground to make up.

I hadn’t seen him in an hour or so when I reached the halfway point so I told the guys to move ahead. I waited a couple of hours but there was still no sign of him. So, I pushed on.

The rain was relentless, but my kitchen covers did their jobs, as always. My hike was pleasant. Wet. But pleasant. I stopped for some water and ate a couple of chunks of jerky. The fog reminded me of an early morning Civil War scene from a movie. My imagination produced the sounds of rifles and drums. It’s hard to imagine that boys half my age of 32 were once commissioned to be a part of something so great. I was all smiles. Wet, sexy smiles. Ha!

With still no sign of Zorro, I hiked the rest of the way to Hawk to meet up with my friends. Only, it was so damn foggy, that I passed the blaze and went another .75 miles down the trail before realizing that I had. I backtracked to Hawk and finally stepped out of the rain.

There was tremendous laughter coming from the shelter. Dr. GT, Dan and some others were making dinner and enjoying a well-deserved safety meeting. I climbed up to the top of the shelter loft and made bunk next to a dude named Snoopy (super cool kid), and another gentleman named Alex. I hung my wets up in the shelter rafters and went to the meet and greet. I met the rest of my trail peeps that night and the next morning.

Alex, mentioned from the loft in the previous paragraph, is an extremely talented, intelligent, level headed, sometimes shy, truly nice person. He and I immediately became friends. He is actively fighting the hypocrisy of marijuana’s wrongly scheduled status by the US Government. He, like most of us, is on the trail to “find himself”. One of the best people I think I’ve ever met and ha the privilege of getting to know.

Deirdre or “Sweet D” is a super cool, uber lovely chick from Raleigh, NC. She’s at that “I’m done with college and I don’t know what the eff to do with my badass self yet.” She keeps a killer pace on the trail and her laugh inspires other hikers to roll on. Her Irish sass is truly something to witness. She was with another young lady named Kristen, who shares with my ex-wife her first name and will probably be omitted from the remainder of my scribblings for reasons of bitterness. There. I said it.

So I hung out with these beautiful people and others all night. But, still no sign of Zorro. Some said he had quit. Some said he pitched a tent near the falls. I hoped that he had found shelter and some camping buddies.

I kept asking people about gear and garbage I found all over the site and shelter. Everyone said it was already there. I took an inventory.

1 cast iron skillet near the creek (wtf?)

1 full sized Coleman stove with fuel canister

2 large plastic water bottles

1 pair of hiking boots

6 D Cell batteries

A stack of section maps

1 leather belt

Several pair of nasty hiking socks

Several food items (just left at a camp site) like cans of soup and thinks I would never hike with

Seemingly, someone decided to just unload all of this shit all over Hawk Mountain. I was chagrined to be a hiker in the same group as whomever this clown was. I hope he/she learns a big lesson about how to take care of something as beautiful as the wilderness. I needn’t tell the readers of this blog the effects people like this have on the trail, environment, and hikers mentalities.

Still that night, the rain was unrelenting. More and more campers piled into the site. For many, they had never pitched their tents or hammocks and not used much of their gear. No better time than the present, I suppose.

In a few short minutes after 10pm, the last headlamp clicked off, the last few giggles subsided and everyone was fast asleep. The wind that pushed over Hawk mountain and howled through the hollers made me smile. The rain pelting the roof of the shelter assuring us our only other solace. We were dry.


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Comments 3

  • Scrappy Malloy : May 15th

    You’re a legend. Excited to follow your scribblings all the way to Maine.

  • Nelia M Real : May 21st

    Your article is right on the spot! I’m a section hiker on the AT, last year we hiked from Amicalola to Cooper Gap, and while staying at Stover Creek shelter we discovered, dog food all over the shelter, a black trash bag filled with garbage on the bear cables, and a lot of wrappers, bottles, and toilet paper along the trail. I even told my partner on the hike, “Soon we won’t need to look for the White Blazes, just follow the trash!” It is so sad, that those of us who love nature, do not protect it, and respect the others who want to enjoy its beauty!

    Chief One Bad Knee


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