Little Rock Knob, Appalachian Trail

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June 5, 1983 Sunday (1790 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

My wrist alarm worked this morning, a morning that would have been nice to have slept in a bit considering the 22 miles that we racked up yesterday. Sometimes on the trail a hiker has to change his routine now and then. I guess today was a good day to try something different, so instead of our usual instant oatmeal for breakfast, we whipped up a sample of freeze dried beef and rice, with some granola on the side. Even though this was one of our emergency meals we had purchased way back in Georgia at Neel's Gap, it seemed like the right thing to do to help us recouperate from the long miles we had gone yesterday. Regardless of having such a seemingly excellent breakfast, we still had a slow start. It was difficult to move very fast. We had only traveled nine and a half miles to the viewpoint on Little Rock Knob by the time lunch rolled around. Took a few pictures of the valley below as we ate, and rested for a while. A rest is what was needed for the upcoming trail.

A few miles later we descended into Hughes Gap where the start of one of the toughest climbs that I remembered from my first trip on the trail in "81. It is the climb up Beartown Mountain - one and a half miles that seemed practically straight up! Jim and I set out on the "dick in the face" ascent of the mountain, a term coined by a fellow hiker from the past. A short easy section was followed by the final ascent up Roan High Knob, another difficult climb. Near the summit I met two ladies from California, professors from a college who were visiting the area hoping to see the rhododendrons famous in the area around Roan Mountain. How did these ladies get to the top of the mountain? This is another area where man has decided to bring a road up to the top to the rhododendron gardens. I found the water fountain nearby, but it was not turned on. Where's a person supposed to get a drink around here? I managed to finagle a soda, a pint of milk, and some ice to fill our canteens from out of the ladies' cooler. Just so happens that there was a spring near the old firewardens cabin at the summit, so at least we were able to fill our canteens as well after such a difficult climb. We contemplated staying at the cabin, which had been designated as a trail shelter, but we had only traveled 14 miles. The trail descended to Carver's Gap with Tennessee highway 143 running through it. We worked our way past the parking lot and log barriers surrounding the lot, and ran into a couple of thru hikers hanging out there - Ron "The Baptist" Amos and Cathy Biondi, and Dennis "Hike-a-holic" Hill and his amazing beagle "Taz" who fetches large sticks much larger than his own body. Not lingering long, we crossed the highway and began our ascent up Round Bald over the long series of log steps that lead toward the summit. Near the summit there was an experimental planting of spruce trees to see whether the trees would grow on the natural bald area. Apparently they are growing, at least when we went through. The trail passed to the left of the bald summit and descended into Engine Gap where the views in all directions of the balds in the area were spectacular. From there it was uphill to Jane Bald, and then over to Grassy Ridge. This area has been one of the most scenic areas along the trail up to now, the balds providing uninterrupted views and the weather cooperating enough to allow those views to be seen with nice blue skies above. We ended our 18.3 mile day at Roan Highlands Shelter. The sound of thunder began to be heard around 6 pm, but the rain did not arrive until after six thirty or later. Made a heafty meal out of two boxes of Mac and Cheese, and a bag of Ramen noodles. That meant about three cups of food for both Jim and myself! The feast was topped off with Pistachio instant pudding.

I believe that it was at this shelter that we were introduced to the "hiker with no name". The author, George Steffanos, another thru-hiker, began writing stories modeled after the Clint Eastwood figure made famous in movies like "Fistful of Dollars". They were quite humorous, and I began to follow his writings in the registers, as well as reading the comic strip by Fuzzy Jim called "Anglehead" about a hiker who had no good luck at all.
Without TV, movies, and other entertainment available, the shelter registers are our source of entertainment.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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