Sunday, June 6, 2010
Imagine jumping into the coldest mountain stream you have ever been in and then imagine being in a vehicle going over a hilltop at a speed that makes your stomach feel like it’s going to fly right out of the car. That’s the feeling I get every time I see the mountains in North Carolina, especially when I see the views from the mountain tops. The plans for the weekend were simple… go sixty miles north on the Appalachian Trail starting at Winding Stair Gap and finishing at Fontana Dam. Setting foot on the trail Thursday, the plan was to go ten miles and camp at a place called Wayah Bald where we would sleep underneath an old fire watch tower. When we arrived at the tower it was nearly eight thirty, the sun was sinking, we were out of water, and it was immediately evident that we would not be sleeping under the rickety old tower. We scoured the map in search of the nearest water source which was about two or three tenths of a mile away and went to fill nalgene bottles for dinner. We pumped from spring water that was trickling down the mountain trapped between tree roots which allowed us to draw it from the small pool it was forming. On the way back to the campsite me and a buddy ran into a female wild boar walking across the trail which was neat to see because I had never seen one. That was one of three that I saw while we were there. My dad saw two bears that I missed out on because I was a good ways in front of him while we were on the trail.
Waking up on Friday morning the plan was to go seventeen miles in order to reach the Nantahala Outdoor Center Friday night. The NOC is in Swain County North Carolina and rests on the riverbanks of the Nantahala River. They have small bars with live music and eating places full of hikers, rafters, and others looking for a good time. Once we were off the trail we had to coordinate car movements in order to have the gear we needed for the next day’s hike. The decision to go seventeen miles in one day was absolutely overly ambitious and wore the whole crew out pretty bad. I honestly was almost to tired to drink a beer when I got off the trail. (I did manage to get one down though) So Friday night once everyone was off the trail it was too dark to set up a campsite and we decided to crash behind the NOC. Jordan slept on the porch of a business that didn’t open until 11:00am the next morning, Rick slept in his hammock tent, Jimbo set up a tent, and the rest of us slept in the cars.
The birds always refuse to let you sleep in whenever you are camping so we were all up early eating breakfast and drinking coffee at a restaurant that overlooked the river. We decided to take a zero day and raft down the Nantahala on an unguided trip. I always have a good time going down the Nantahala because it moves pretty swift. After eight miles of paddling and hitting some pretty good rapids we decided hangout at one of the pizza bars on the river and have some pizza and drink beer. At these little joints along the river you are able to meet other hikers and learn about their adventures and you are able to share your own. You pick up new information about the trail and are able to increase your overall knowledge about the backcountry. The best part about hanging out is that all of the people there are down to earth, nice, genuine people. When we left the pizza bar called PBR (Pizza By the River) we went to a place called Slow Joe’s and sat outside and listened to live music and drank more beer. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and called it a night around 12:30.
Down 27 miles… 33 to go. When reality set in on Sunday Morning finishing North Carolina was an unfeasible task by the end of the day on Monday. So we decided to prolong the trip to another weekend this summer and promised to finish the last 33 miles at the point. We ate breakfast this morning outside of Franklin, North Carolina…. we drank coffee and told stories about the trip then everyone went home. What a great weekend!!! Make sure you check the pictures from the trip on Facebook.