5, 1983 Sunday (1790 mtg) From
Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal
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.
TV, movies, and other entertainment available, the shelter registers
are our source of entertainment.
Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983