Well, we’re back at the resort and I’m glad to report we survived. It was an another amazing trip but unfortunately I don’t have time now to dump all the details and pics. So, I’ll drop some posts over the next couple of days to catch up. Here goes.
The pack on the left above is what I’ll carry on the AT trip with Deep Woods next week. One on the right is the one I’ll carry for four days with Loonie. You’re thinking “Man that Bulldog is such a great guy for carrying all of his wife’s crap”, right? Actually, I’m fortunate she even agrees to go along. And no, I don’t carry all of her crap. We just take too much.
Charles from “A Walk In The Woods Shuttle Service” picked us up at 8 am. He was cool and shared some interesting stories of the trips he’s led in his time with the company.
We made it to the Clingmans Dome parking lot by 9:30 and made the trek up the paved trail to the tower. We decided to go up just for the heck of it. We had plenty of time and there weren’t zillions of people there yet.
Got back down and hit the AT. This day’s hike would be a retracing of our steps from last falls hike to Siler’s Bald. Not the brilliant fall colors of course but the views were awesome as always.
I mentioned in an earlier post that we might run into The Hitched Hikers, newly weds thru-hiking as their honeymoon. Then it started looking like they would already have gone on by. I had also been following a father-daughter team on trailjournals.com, Negotiator and Mustard Seed, and they and just hit Fontana Dam on Thursday. So we would almost certainly run into them. And we did within about 30 min. We talked with them for a bit, encouraging them to keep on moving through the park to take advantage of the great weather and bypass Craplinburg if they could. Fortunately, that was their plan anyway. Saying our goodbyes, we moved on and 15 min later here come The Hitched Hikers. So we stopped and talked with them for a bit. Very nice couple. They had zeroed (day off of hiking) in Fontana Village so that’s why we were seeing them now.
After chatting with them for a bit we set off again. The trail to Siler’s Bald moves in and out of conifers, offering great views when you break out of the trees. The terrain isn’t particularly aggressive, even heading back to the dome. We just puttered along taking our time. At this elevation (6000 ft or so) we were seeing some Spring Beauties and Trout Lilies but we knew that later on in the trip when we started to get a bit lower we should start seeing some other varieties of wildflowers.
We passed a gazillion thru-hikers heading North as we made our way to the shelter and there were a number staying the night once we made it there. We filtered our water, setup our pads and quilt, changed clothes and watched a couple of guys futilely try to start a fire with a bow drill.
As we sat around eating dinner we got to talking to another couple, Rick and Haven from Knoxville, TN. Haven, mentioned she works in production management for GAC ( Great American Country), the show on cable/sat, and they just wrapped up a show at Big Cedar Lodge. We all got a kick out of that since Loonie and I have been going there for all these years. We asked her if she had gone down to Buzzards Bar to hear and meet Clay. She had and said he was even doing a lead-in to one of the songs on the countdown. Cool. I mentioned to Rick and Haven that I ran across a guy from Knoxville my last two visits to the park and after checking out his twitter feed and instagram page it seemed like the guy never left the park. Its like he’s there ALL THE FREAKIN TIME. They just looked at each other and said “That sounds like Sid”. I said “Wait a minute. You know Sid? Last time I ran into him he was at campsite 12 sittin’ by the fire and swappin’ at bees. He had two friends show up later that had to go past our site to get to his.” You guessed it. They say “That was us!” Small world.
Someone mentioned that there was a small view point to catch the sunset from the top of the bald. Siler’s isn’t a maintained bald so its pretty overgrown but I did notice a side trail to the west at the top. Six of the young thru-hiking guys and Loonie and I headed on up to find a tiny 6 x 6 ft slab of rock with just a decent view. But it was a beautiful night. We all crowded on and soaked it in. One of kids sat perched out on the ledge doing some sort of “zen-thing” after he and a couple of his buddies enjoyed a “smoke”. Whatever floats your boat. I’m just glad he didn’t zen his way over the edge. Headed back to the shelter by headlamps to hit the sack.
The only other thing of note that night, apparently Rick rolled over in bed and laid his hand on Haven, who thought it was a rat. She screamed, Rick tried to calm her down and moved his hand, which she thought was the rat running over her. She screamed louder, sprang up out of her bag and flew out of the shelter. Rick retrieved her and all is well. Another beautiful day on the Appalachian Trail.
More to come …