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June 8, 1983 Wednesday (1741.1 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

Said goodbye to the boys, recorded their addresses, and took off this morning on the extremely long uphill climb of Pond Mountain. The climb was uneventful except for the fact that after all that climbing the trail did not even go to the top! Fairly smooth sailing after the climb as we descended down to Watauga Lake. We expected to get a burger or something like that at the restaurant/gas station that we found situated near where the trail crossed US 321 near Rat branch recreation area, but when I cheerfully asked the guy working the store if anything was cookin' today, he said "no." What a letdown. So we split and wandered over to Shook Branch Recreation Beach Area nearby. There I took a little splash bath as I entered the lake up to my thighs. It was cool and refreshing. We took a considerable break at the beach while eating lunch and relaxing in the sun as its warm rays dried off my body. From there the trail followed the shoreline with the lake to our right, and to our left, a housing development seemed to push the trail corridor close to the lake. We passed by Watauga lake shelter, also located very near the waterfront, choosing to continue on to Vandeventer Shelter, high above Watauga Lake on the crest of Iron Mountain. We found a little construction going on at the dam, probably repaving of the road across the dam. We crossed the dam and began our ascent toward the Iron Mountain ridge. Time seemed to be flying and we soon found ourselves five miles past the dam and secure in our new home for the night at Vandeventer Shelter.

Supposedly at this shelter some years back there were a couple of hikers who were killed as a result of a lightening strike. If memory serves me, I believe that it was a couple who were on their honeymoon. From the looks of it, we would not have much of a lightening problem tonight, the skies were just gorgeous! And the view out the back of the shelter made the effort involved in getting there worthwhile. We could see the entire Watauga Lake and some of the mountains that we had just traversed on the opposite side of the lake. We gathered wood for a fire, then having little else to do we fixed and ate supper, lit the fire in the firepit outside the shelter, and drifted off to sleep. With the exception of the climb up Pond Mountain, the day was fairly relaxing as we only logged a total of only 16 miles.

There is no mention in my log from this trip of Whip-Por-Will activity during the night, so we probably had a good rest during the night. However, I recall six years later a bird of that species vocalized it's namesake all night long from right out in the clearing in front of the shelter. It was nice to listen to for a while, but on and on and on and on is enough to drive a man to the brink of mental breakdown - virtually impossible to get any sleep to say the least.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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