I’m sitting at Watauga Lake right now just outside of Hampton, Tennessee. Wifi has been difficult of late, but I have a bunch of posts prepped for Damascus, VA where I should be in three days time.
We arrived at the lake here two days ago to find trail magic: burgers and dogs, beer and pop, and all the snacks we could eat.
With full bellies, we laid around swimming the day away then hiked .4 miles back up the mountain to a campsite.
Yesterday, we zeroed at the lake taking time waiting on Dr. Kool-aid who is spending a few days with his sister.
Last night, we cowboy camped at the lake stuffing our food in one of the bear-proof trash containers that one of the girls cleaned out.
Now, it’s 2pm and and we’re getting set to make a few miles before dark. We have to go at least 9 due to the Watauga Lake shelter being closed because of a problem bear. He’s smart and likes robbing hikers.
In 40 some miles we cross the Virginia border! Three states down… eleven to go! See y’all in Damascus in a few days. Happy trails!
Kodak here signing in from Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin, Tn on my 30-something day on the trail. The blog has fallen a little behind due to lack of internet access in the forest. Go figure! The internet in towns has not been so good and time is really short with chores and socialization and all. Sorry.
I’ve resumed journaling nightly so my posts should improve once I get caught up. I bought a journal in Hot Springs after sending mine home. Horrible decision. I need to write to keep my head in order and so many things happen out here it is difficult to remember it and keep things straight.
Anyway, last night I took a day off from taking pictures allowing myself only one. The photo I took was of Mountain Goat and myself sitting around a fire under a bridge here in Erwin. We nero’d into town and spent a night camped at the hostel. Funds are super low, and we wanted a zero, so Mountain Goat and myself walked across the bridge and cowboy camped beside the river.
A church men’s group drove us into town for a walmart run where we bought broccoli, cauliflower, corn on the cob, and a rotisserie chicken. We bought butter and tin foil and cooked the veg in the fire.
Just as we prepared to toss the food in the fire, a man and his two sons walked up with a 2ft rainbow trout that swallowed a hook and wasn’t going to make it. “Want it?” He asked. “We have a freezer full.”
“Heck yeah!” I said. I taught Mountain Goat how to clean the fish. We stuffed the chest cavity with wild onion and a quarter pound of butter then wrapped it in foil. After eight minutes on each side, the fish was cooked to perfection; meat flaking; juicy, and tender; entire skeleton peeling from the uneaten side.
We feasted then cooked some pineapple in the fire for desert. We topped it with chocolatey yogurt and sweet cracker crumbles. “This is better than the desert at Iron Horse!” Mountain Goat declared. Another special night on the Appalachian Trail.
Anyway, here are photos from my 21st day on the trail. Sorry for the lack of story to follow it. See ya’ll soon!
We had a rough night. Someone fell asleep with music on. I woke to it at 3am. Unable to fall asleep with the ruckus, I braved the cold the shook the mans tent till he woke. “Please turn off your music.” He didn’t, only turned it down a bit.
A few minutes later, Mr. Kool-Aid snapped, “TURN OFF THE F*CKING MUSIC!”
“I need it to cover up the snoring.”
“No-one is snoring, but your music is keeping everyone awake!” Says Mr. Kool-Aid. “Please, turn it off.”
“Since you put it like that, ok.”
We hiked on through a bit of fog and a slight bit of rain. Just enough to wet the trails but not ourselves. Sometime after noon, the clouds cleared and the sun pierced the sky just in time for us to find a bald.
We laid in the sun on top of the mountain soaking in the golden warmth for hours. It is one of my favorite moments; carefree relaxation with no-where to be and nothing to do but chill with new friends.
We managed to tear ourselves away from the comforts of the Hilton and hit the trail after another shower. I can’t say enough how much I enjoy a hot shower. I just can’t take enough of them.
Mr. Kool-Aid is a bit slow in the morning (understatement! Sorry dude 🙂 so Cool Dad, Savage, and Canuck hit the trail before us with the intentions of meeting up at the Russell Field Shelter. It did not happen.
Mr. Kool-Aid and I take our time and enjoy every single second we can. We stood and watched a family of deer with one of the yearlings walking within a few feet of us. We climbed a fire-tower and made coffee at it’s base with a group of girls we met in town. It felt a bit like running a Starbucks with Mr. Kool-Aid boiling water while I ran the drip. Ahh, nothing like fresh coffee to bring people together.
We hiked with the girls then pushed past the shelter they stayed at to meet up with our friends but didn’t find them there. They kept going past the planned stop and it was way too late for us to catch up. Oh well.
Entering Great Smokey Mountains National Park
Mr. Kool-Aid filming himself with a baby deer.
Mr. Kool-Aid with the baby deer
My Shadow and Mountain Goat filtering water from a stream.
The Fontana Hilton Shelter earns it’s name for the restrooms with running water complete with hot showers. It has a solar charging station to charge small electronics, a large fire area located above the lake, and, thanks to Canuck and me, a chess board on the floor of the shelter.
We left the Fontana lodge late in the day after a harty breakfast and a few more showers. A shuttle drove us to the trailhead where we hiked around the lake for just over a mile before deciding to call it quits for the day.
With the Smokey Mountains ahead, we did not want to rush off late in the day to a campsite we may not be able to sleep at. In the Smokies, we can only sleep in shelter areas and the first one is further than we wished to walk so late in the day. And it’s not like we are in a hurry. If we were, we’d have just driven to Maine!
Canuck and I enjoy chess so we decided to make a board on the floor of the shelter. With charcoal from the fire, we etched and shaded a board. We used flowers for our kings; large rocks for the queens, gravel for pawns, skinny sticks for bishops, nuts for knights, and shells for rooks.
The game got off to a confusing start and I gave up my queen in the first few moves mistaking one of our pieces. Canuck made the same mistake a few moves later, going down a queen as well. We caught on after that though and had an incredible time with our makeshift board. Good times!
We camped behind the shelter and laughed the night away before crawling into our nylon homes. In the morning we head into the Smokies.