Big Bald, Appalachian Trail

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June 3, 1983 Friday (1812.2 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

All that long mileage yesterday must have tired us out enough to cause us to sleep in a bit. We got up this morning at 6:30 am. I ate the 20 ounce can of pineapples bought at the Exxon station for breakfast and continued on up the trail with sore leg and all. The pain was not all that bad going uphill, but sore on the way down. The climb up Big Bald was kind of tough, but the rewards of the view from the top made the effort worthwhile. Luckily we did not have to take the side trail that bypasses the summit. This trail is available for use during extremely foggy and rainy weather, and the trail guide recommends its use during this type of weather because extensive open areas such as over the bald cannot be fully marked, additionally it is unsafe to go over an open summit during a lightening storm. The broad, totally treeless, grassy, open summit afforded panoramic, 360 degrees of fantastic view. We propped our packs upon the summit marker and began taking photos. From our vantage point we could see the magnificent country, including Little Bald, that we would be traveling over as soon as we finished our break on Big Bald. We had only gone about six miles by the time we arrived on Big Bald, so lunch would have to wait for a few more miles.

We chose not to see what lies at the end of the side trail to High Rocks, probably deciding this after reading in the guide about the trail "leading right steeply."

After descending into Spivey Gap and the roadcrossing at US 19, we temporarily lost the trail. After an exhausting search of probably less than a couple of minutes, we decided to see if the occupants in a travel trailer nearby had any idea where the trail was. We woke up a young man who was taking a siesta inside. He did not have a clue where the trail was any more than we did so we continued our search. Soon we were back on the trail and slopping our way up the ravine that the trail shared with a stream called Oglesby Branch named after the first Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club member to have fallen into it. This hiking club is one of the many that are caretakers of the trail. Each club maintains a portion of the trail including clearing blowdowns, building new sections, and keeping the trail open. Some clubs work harder than others. The Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club has the tough job of controlling the dreaded stinging nettle populations along the trail. This is quite a job in North Carolina and Tennessee where there is a large population of these plants. Stinging nettles are a menace to the hiker in shorts. Simply brushing the plants as you walk by causes a stinging sensation that itches for some time afterwards. In the past the club has gained the reputation of not clearing these plants from the trail and in 1981, became known as the Tennessee Eastman S & M hiking club as a result. Luckily, in this area the conditions are just right for the growth of another plant known as Jewel Weed that can be crushed and rubbed on the stinging area of your body and somewhat counteracts the itching caused by the nettles.

We arrived at No Business Knob Shelter about four miles later and had to walk back 400 yards to the spring beside the trail. Had we known the shelter was just around the bend, we would have filled up before getting to the lean-to. I decided to take a few minutes to soak my leg in the cool water of the spring before returning to begin the ritual of making supper. We traveled 17 miles today, a long way since we traveled so far the day before. Saw a deer near the shelter.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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