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Appalachian Trail... photos and journal

Spring of 2002... In the deep south...


(Page 6 of 10 pages)


From my journal(April 26th) Day-10..."I forgot to mention yesterday that I'd found my first patch of ramp- a wild onion like tuber plant that grows at high altitude in these southern Appalachian mountains. I cooked them into my supper for some great added flavor.

Back at the shelter last night just before going to sleep I'd given South Paw Charlie a hard time about spilling his bag of peanuts inside of the shelter and how we'd be at war with the mice tonight. Well, as it turned out during the night it was my pack which the mice attacked and they woke me up with their gnawing sounds as they bit holes through my big rear mesh pocket. I was up and beating my pack silly at some ungoshly early morning hour as visions of me hiking down the trail carrying all my gear in my sleeping bag stuff sac as I thumbed for a ride back home! This morning I saw that I'd left a granola bar wrapper inside the mesh and knew that I'd have to be more careful about removing every piece of my daily trash... or else!

Seems that my body is back in shape as I hiked over 26 miles today and my legs feel strong, although I woke up with two swollen heels. I also passed the highest point on the entire A.T. this morning at Clingman's Dome and took time as always to walk up the tower for the view. It was then on to Newfound Gap and crossing the busy Highway 441. From here it was spectacular scenery walking a very sharp ridge on an overcast day, but quite nice.

I stopped briefly just past Icebox Spring Shelter to cook a hot meal then moved on non-stop to Tri-Corner Knob Shelter which was filled way beyond capacity so I filled my water bag and set up my tarptent on a ridge across the trail. It is really nice and quiet up here as a few stray raindrops pounce off my tarp. Tomorrow I should be beyond the great Smoky Mountains"


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Looking north from the trail the observation deck atop Clingmans Dome can be seen far off in the distance.

A while later I was walking up the deck for a great view. Clingmans Dome is the highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail at 6,643 feet above sea level.

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Many scientists seem to believe that the dying trees here is a result of acid rain.

Sort of a neat root system that I had to pause for a moment to examine!

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With such grace and elegance I couldn't help but to admire this small yet powerful bit of beauty on the trail.

Another cluster of red that caught my eye.

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A close-up of budding in progress.

The trail passed directly under a collection of deadfall just like an underground tunnel on the highway.


From my journal(April 27th) Day-11..."I pulled down my food bag from the bear-proof cable in the trees then was on the trail by 6:45a.m. and enjoyed a nice morning walk out of the Smoky Mountains. It was amazing how warm that it suddenly became as I came back down into the valley before Davenport Gap. I also passed by a very long horse train heading south as I exited the park.

It was a 15 mile walk to "Mountain Mama's Kuntry Store" set up in an apparently old school house and where I arrived by early afternoon and nice to be greeted by so many other hikers. I got myself a huge chicken sandwich and french fries with two chocolate milks. After sifting through the hikers box and buying a few groceries I walked back up to Davenport Gap and headed north again on the great AT. After crossing I-40 I stopped at the first creek and washed my hair then bathed a bit which was most refreshing.

For a while the trail led me through a sea of poison ivy so I had to be careful. I really had the walking spirit and kept on going to about 8:00p.m. where I found a very tiny spring for water and a cozy stealth campsite nearby, about a mile from Brown Gap I guessed. Tucked in just perfectly for another good nights sleep under the trees, which sway a bit in the wind. Should be in Hot Springs sometime tomorrow afternoon. Good night! "


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Mountain Moma's is a must stop for nearly every hiker after exiting the Great Smokies at Davenport Gap. Great cheeseburgers and great people!

Hiker's were everywhere around Mountain Moma's.

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Where the trail goes under a busy Interstate 40.

How's this for a brilliant red?

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Just making his way across the trail hoping not to get crunched.


From my journal(April 28th) Day-12..."This was another one of those big days full with magic and surprises... the sort of stuff that makes trail life so non-routine and appealing to the inner core of what makes me happy. It became extremely windy during the night however I'd closely checked the surrounding trees for dead growth before setting up my tarptent, but with the strength of this wind my mind could only imagine a huge limb falling down to kill or maim me then it would be years before some hunter accidentally found my bones in my well hidden campsite. Fortunately, that didn't happen and I was hiking just after 7:00a.m.

At Brown Gap I ran into a big bunch of folks cooking breakfast that at first sight appeared to be the Tennessee Militia, but just as I crossed the dirt road a heavily bearded fellow yelleed, "BREAKFAST: EGGS, MUFFINS, ORANGE JUICE!" to me as I made an amazingly quick 180 degree turn-around back to that voice like a magnet! It ended up being a gathering of nice hiker folks like myself and they graciously fed me some real food and I enjoyed some good trail talk before heading north again an hour later. With a full stomach I was hiking and ran into Darryl and Ruth- the kind folks who had given me a ride into Fontana just a few days ago. I recognized their RV and began smiling a waving in the window then Darryl and I talked lightweight gear and shared trail talk for a while.

Shortly later I hiked across Max Patch which was so beautiful and offered great views in all directions. I ran into so many great hikers along the way to Hot Springs and arrived in town after 6:00p.m. just when the grocery store was closing so I had to stay in town tonight. I'm at Elmer's hostel in a very cool basement room, which I call the dungeon... very nice. "


Here's a fine group of friendly hiker-folk known as Hobo Central that invited me in for a very hefty breakfast at Brown Gap.

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