Appalachian Trail Journals 05-07-03

Journals From A 2003 Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail (by Loony)

Entry #43 – May 7, 2003

9:35 AM – Had a plan to get going early from the Overmountain Shelter yesterday. Wanted to get into town, and weren’t sure if there were many hotel rooms available. Amazingly, we were the first of the mob to stir, around 6AM. Hit the trail at 7 – the first ones to leave for once! The skies were overcast, but there was no rain. Immediately headed up Little Hump Mtn. There was a neat view looking back at the red barn, and then in about a mile and a half we were up at the top of a magnificent bald. The wind was blowing pretty good but we had a fabulous view for miles and miles. From there we went down into Bradley Gap and then up again to Hump Mtn. Even higher than Little Hump Mtn, the view was amazing. This morning, hiking over those balds, was one of the best moments yet for me, I think. The first on the trail, sun rising in the distance, atop a mountain with nothing around but open fields, rolling hills covered in green as far as you can see – nothing between you and the heavens for miles. Definitely a spot in time when everything seems worthwhile! After Hump Mtn Bald we had about 5 miles downhill to town. Along the way I could see some cattle up in the distance. I pointed it out to Andy, wondering if we’d go by them. A half mile later or so, we came around a bend to find a herd of some kind of longhorn cattle staring us down right on the trail. Not sure what kind they were – just huge, with horns a couple feet long, male, female and babies! The bulls had big rings in their noses. Took a couple pictures while deciding where to walk. Mentioned to Andy he might want to hide the bright red bandanna he had flapping from the front of his chest. Eventually just walked around the herd a bit, and they didn’t even give us a second look. Could have probably walked right through, but I just have this thing about not wanting to be crushed to death by a bull on a spur of the moment rampage. Continued on and hit the highway by 10:30 – good time for us – 9 miles in 3 1/2 hours!

When we got to the road, we found the rumor that Radar had told us was true! There was a sign on a rock stating that the Times Square Motel in Elk Park, NC, was closed, even though all the new guidebooks still showed it open. The sign was an “ad” for the Shadylawn Motel. It gave a phone #[(828)733-5506] and said Herb would come pick people up from the trail & bring them to the motel. We still needed to go to Elk Park first, though, to get our mail drop, so we figured we’d try to hitch a ride. Besides, how the heck were we supposed to call Herb anyway – miles from anything and no cell phone! While we waited for a ride, I spied a bag on the trail on the other side of the road. Trail Magic! Even though we were headed in, I grabbed a little bag of trail mix & a Kudo’s. In only a few minutes, a nice guy in a new truck pulled over & brought us in to the post office. Our drop was in (and a letter from Earl), so from there we called Herb to pick us up & bring us to Newland, about 8 miles down the road. We got a cozy little room. The place has laundry, ice, cable and is close enough to walk to the library, post office, stores, restaurants, etc. And, the rooms are only $40. Did some errands then and relaxed. At a pint of ice cream each before dinner. We were Quite full, then, but we need it, I guess. We can both tell that we’ve lost weight. Plus, I now have muscles where I never knew they were supposed to exist, ha ha! The weather held out for the most part, but there was rain off & on. This morning I watched the weather, and the combination of impending storms and a general tiredness made me convince Andy we should stay another night. This morning, Hepcat, 56, Katouri and some others got a ride back to the trail. Andy went with and Herb brought him to the store in Elk Park to pick up some beer to entertain us for the day (no beer sold in Newland!). Then Andy & I went & got a new TV for our room – the old one only showed 13 channels – now we have 70. So, it should be a good, relaxing day.

We’ll get going early tomorrow – 16 miles to the shelter.