31, 1981 Sunday From Gonzo!s Appalachian
Nice morning. A little overcast, but it eventually cleared up.
Chuck and I had to get up to wait for the ranger to arrive so we could
get our backcountry permits before entering the park. Although free,
they are necessary to monitor who goes in and out of the park and
ensure everyone a spot in a shelter if they want one. Bruce and Mike
were already at the Visitor center, but hadnt hit the trail
yet because Mike wanted to catch someone there to mail his post cards.
The TVA employee/ranger wouldnt do it said it was against
orders to give rides or take mail. He had already been at the center
and had left before we had arrived. Tired of waiting, Mike eventually
walked back to the shelter to give John Smart the mail to take into
town. After he got back, Mike and Bruce walked off over the dam. Upon
getting about half way across, Chuck and I yelled a good L-L-L-Lick
Me! that echoed around the lake and dam area for a second or two.
Lick me had become a phrase that was commonly used by
Bruce and Mike, and began to creep into our vocabularies as well.
They turned around as the echo subsided and returned the greeting.
waited there for the ranger who seemed to never get there. I decided
to call home while we waited and as I was talking she finally
arrived. We got our permits every shelter the same as the
other guys except for the first shelter. They got Mollies, we got
Birch Springs Gap. We started off slowly after taking a snack and
drinking a Mr. Pibb at the Visitors center. Our packs seemed a bit
heavier mine wasnt so much of a change I dont
think, it was always heavy! Hiked on as the sun shone brightly in
the sky, and just before the firetower on Shuckstack Mountain, I
spotted a huge rattler lying on a rock in the middle of the trail.
I stopped just in time, and told Chuck about it. We threw some rocks
at it in hopes it would move, but it just got pissed and tense.
I threw a large rock at it and it really got mad. We should have
killed and eaten it but instead decided to go around the snake -
off the trail. We ate lunch on top of the firetower 2 Pop-Tarts
and some gorp. The view was spectacular. Took a shot of Chuck and
one of Fontana Lake. The rest I figured would be boring, and later
I wouldnt know what it was anyway. Made it to Birch Springs
shelter and relieved myself in the woods. When I came back I found
Chuck talking to a man who said his party of eight who were supposed
to stay at Mollies had decided to continue on and exit the park
and hike on to the dam. We decided that since their spots were now
open at Mollies Ridge shelter we would take a chance on moving on
to the next shelter and getting caught and being fined for being
in the wrong shelter. We packed up and pushed on to Mollies -4.5
miles up the trail.
really picked the pace up, and made it to the shelter just before
a cloudburst. Bruce began looking for his expensive Gore-tex rain
parka and concluded that he left it where he had eaten his lunch
- six miles down the trail. He decided to try to retrieve it. Borrowing
Mikes jacket, he ran back to find it.
deer appeared near the shelter as we sat there eating. They dont
seem to be too afraid of humans. I had fixed minute rice flavored
with chicken soup, a little butter, mashed potatoes, and a little
cheese sause from a macaroni and cheese dinner. Dessert was a bit
of pistachio pudding and a Fig Newton donated to me from Chucks
cookie supply which had been sent by his mother. After some hours,
Bruce finally came running back - without finding his jacket. It
was almost 8:45 pm or so and night was beginning to creep in. He
yelled stay back! as he approached because a bear was
supposedly paralleling him just off the trail. Mike said he, himself,
had seen it earlier when he had gone out a couple of miles to leave
Bruce a Snickers and a canteen along the trail. Both hikers had
come back soaked from a short hard rain. Mike claimed he had seen
the bear ten feet in front of him and said he started clacking two
rocks together. The result was that the bear ran down the trail
toward the direction where Bruce would be coming on his return.
Bruce said he had also encountered a wart hog, and had just finished
running away from it when the bear appeared twenty feet in front
of him. He was bushed from all the running and started yelling to
scare the bear off. He also had gotten out his buck knife. He made
it back in one piece, but was mad because he didnt find his
jacket. He also said he saw an eight to ten point buck. The rain
had quit before Bruce got back a hard, short term rain. We
made hot tea, cocoa and coffee for Mike and Bruce, the wettened
beasties, to warm them up.