Inside Look: The Greasy Creek Friendly
Today the Appalachian Trail is home to a plethora of hostels, but only home to one Friendly. For nearly 15 years the Greasy Creek Friendly has made it its mission to offer hikers one of the friendliest stays the AT has to offer.
Have a Super Butterfly Day
So what makes this Friendly so friendly? It has everything to do with the establishments charismatic owner and operator, Cee Cee, who’s even donned the Friendly with its very own theme song.
Have a smiley face day/at the Greasy Creek Friendly.
Have a butterfly day/at the Greasy Creek Friendly.
Dreams can come true/at the Greasy Creek Friendly.
Have a super butterfly day!
Originally Cee Cee wanted to start her own bed and breakfast, but in 1998 a run in with the Appalachian Trail inspired her to do something a little more “unique”.
“Sams Gap, I was up there and I knew the trail existed but I didn’t think much about it…That’s when I caught what I call the AT virus and I wanted to be close to the trail, do something on the trail…be able to hike it any time I wanted to.”
The following year Cee Cee began searching for properties near the AT. Her search inevitably brought her to the site of her future Friendly on Greasy Creek Road nestled quaintly between mountain ridges just a scant 0.6 miles off of the AT. Cee Cee began the work of transforming her new home until finally, in 2000, the Greasy Creek Friendly opened it’s doors to hikers. Today the Friendly acts as a refuge for weary hikers to rest, resupply, and fill their bellies before tackling one of the tallest and most picturesque mountains in the south: Roan Mountain.
“Roan Mountain is the prettiest place in the world.”
Though she’s never felt the need to set out on a thru-hike, Cee Cee has a great love for the AT.
“I’ve never had a desire to hike the whole thing, but I love to be on the trail whenever I can get on there…Even before we found this place I probably hiked every bit of the south from Georgia up to the Smokys…and I want to be an expert between Hot Springs and Damascus so I hike those sections quite often, especially the ones in my area. I try to hike those areas and know those areas real well. I want to know them like the back of my hand.”
Cee Cee created the Greasy Creek Friendly for a single purpose: to take care of thru-hikers.
“The reason I call myself the Greasy Creek Friendly is because I want to be a friend to hiker kind. That’s one of my goals…to help them on their way.”
Dreams Can Come True
Cee Cee is ready and willing to provide help and services to cover the numerous needs thru-hikers may need. Whether you’re just looking for a bed, a slack pack, a quick meal, some resupply, a ride into town, or maybe a safe environment to rest off the Noro, Cee Cee and the Greasy Creek Friendly provide a will and a way.
As long as group sizes are manageable you can expect to be treated to some delicious home-cooked meals during your stay at the Friendly.
“I love to cook…my favorite word is ‘mmmmm’.”
Even if you aren’t looking to stay the night stopping in for such a delicious opportunity makes the 1.2 mile round-trip detour more than worth it. (best cheesy-grits on the trail in my opinion) Cee Cee goes out of her way to try and provide healthy dining options for her guests, from simple salads, to vegetarian, and even now some gluten-free options.
However, it’s important to remember that if you’re stopping by the Friendly from sun down on Friday to sundown on Saturday most hostel services are self-serve. Though given enough interest Cee Cee is usually more than happy to run hungry hikers down to the local Mountain Grill for a bite.
The Friendly offers hikers a variety of lodging options. For $10 per person you can snag a spot in the bunkhouse adjacent to the Friendly filled with more than a few bunk beds. If you’re looking for something a little nicer you can spring for indoor accommodations for $15 and up. Alternatively if beds aren’t your style you can tent on the property for only $7.50 per person. Course if you’re just looking to take a load off rather than stay the night you can still score a shower for only $3. All overnight prices include access to a shower, laundry, computer access, and limited kitchen privileges. Cee Cee is also excited to now offer guests access to WiFi.
It’s worth noting that The Greasy Creek Friendly is on the short list of hostels that are open year round. This means folks don’t just have to be hiking during thru-hiker season to find shelter here. Parking is also available for $2/night should you be looking to drive in for a day or section hike..
If you’re in need of a basic resupply Cee Cee has stocked the Friendly with a multitude of supplies. Also available are fuel refills including standard isobutane canisters, denatured alcohol, and even Coleman white gas options. Mail drops are also accepted.
Pets are allowed on the property but must be kept outside. Starting April 1st beds for both a hiker and their pet are available on the front porch from which hikers can scope out some “viewlicious” scenery of the upcoming Roan Mountain. However, those hikers traveling without a furry companion, particularly those with known pet allergies, should take into account that Cee Cee’s dog (Iyoby) and two cats (Thomas and Annie) stay with her inside the Friendly but are kept out of the bunkhouse.
Shuttles are also available for the steady rate of $1/mile. Mind you this is not a per person fee. So the more people chipping in for a shuttle the cheaper the fee for each individual. Shuttles are available as far south as Hot Springs and as far north as Damascus. Opportunities for slackpacking over Roan Mountain are also available. Should you need a more serious resupply shuttles are even available to larger shopping centers and even outfitters in Johnson City.
And last but not least if movies are your thing than Cee Cee is happy to oblige. The Greasy Creek Friendly boasts one of the largest and more eclectic video libraries you’ll find this early on the AT. Whether you want to dive back into your childhood with the a little Hakuna Matata, watch Matthew Mcconaughey execute the most anticlimactic showdown with a dragon ever, or let things get a little weird watching a man devolve inside a deprivation tank than the Greasy Creek Friendly has got you covered.
There Ain’t No Hostel ‘Round Here…
On the path down to the Greasy Creek Friendly should hikers mistakenly stop at the first house on the left (as opposed to the first house on the right where Cee Cee resides) they’ll find something a little less than friendly. From the very beginning Cee Cee’s nearly eighty-year-old neighbor has taken issue with the Friendly’s operations.
“After the first year my neighbor became kind of hostile…he started realizing what we were doing and he didn’t like it.”
He disliked it so much that he made it his daily mission to find ways to make life more difficult for Cee Cee and her Friendly. It started as simply some early-morning, less-than-silent protests carried out in an attempt to disturb slumbering hikers.
“I think he starts at 5(AM)…he either rides his lawnmower or his four-wheeler down to his mailbox and sometimes he’ll beat on that while he’s riding it yelling ‘get up hiker trash’. Then he’ll go out there and start a lawnmower and just let it run till it runs out of gas.”
As time went on his actions moved beyond simply annoying visiting hikers and actively began trying to disrupt the Friendly’s business. He began to remove and/or damage posted adverts and signs guiding hikers to the Friendly and in some cases even put up some of his own. These fake postings generally try to convince hikers that the Friendly is closed due to illness, a death in the family, or some other cockamamie story.
Some of his more aggressive actions have even resulted in direct attacks on Friendly itself.
“He’s done so many things to the water system that damaged it beyond repair…now it really needs to be redone.”
Whether its destroying her security cameras, digging up her water pipes, or just making a early morning racket the neighbor has made clear his opinion of the Friendly.
Still in the face of such wanton opposition Cee Cee and Greasy Creek shine through with a friendliness and patience many would not be able to muster.
“He’d been up here his whole life to get away from people…I moved up here to be off the AT. We had different goals. The hikers don’t bother him. Just the fact that they’re here bothers him. He just wants to be away from people and I want to meet people.”
Despite the disruptions Cee Cee encourages hikers and other visitors to simply ignore her neighbor as to live and let live. Taking personal action or dispute with this disgruntled fellow is not something she wants nor is it likely to improve the situation. For Cee Cee her neighbor is nothing more than a minor inconvenience worth handling if it means she gets to continue supporting hundreds of AT hikers each year.
“The biggest mistake most people make is they don’t read the front of their guidebook n’when it says ‘east’ it means ‘trail east’ and not ‘compass east’.”
The Greasy Creek Friendly resides on a quick 0.6 detour off the AT, but if you’re not careful you might miss it. When you arrive at Greasy Creek Gap (approximately 4 miles past Iron Mountain Gap/TN 107/NC 226) you’ll notice an established campsite and a crossroads. You want to take the path that is “trail east” not “compass east”. That means if you’re hiking NOBO turn right down the old jeep road and if you’re hiking SOBO turn left. Then take the first left and continue down the road. You should be going down hill the entire way and the road winds quite a bit, but you’ll eventually arrive on Greasy Creek Rd. If you pay attention you may still be able to see remnants of some old green blazes along the way. The Greasy Creek Friendly will be the first house on your right. Do not go to the house on the left. Can’t stress that last bit enough. Consult the map below for a visual reference.
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