Homer's Travels: Appalachian Trail: Franklin, NC To Nantahala Outdoor Center

Monday, April 22, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Franklin, NC To Nantahala Outdoor Center

UPDATED 10-18-2020

A thought before I talk about what I've been up to on the Appalachian Trail.

Before I reached Unicoi Gap and Hiawassee where I ended my first attempt two years ago, there was always a little evil voice in the back of my head saying that it was ok to quit again. After leaving Hiawassee the voice has lost its power and fades a bit more everyday. Yes, on tough days I wonder what the heck I'm doing but I no longer consider quitting. I just want to keep going.

Now on with the show …

Snow frosting the trees along the trail.
Day 18 - Curry decided to stay in Franklin one more day to see a band she liked and to let her knee rest some more. This would mark the end of my trail family.

I returned to the Appalachian Trail at Winding Stair Gap. When the shuttle arrived to drop us off it began to snow! Most of the day I hiked up hill in varying degrees of snowfall.  It was truly amazing. The snow stuck to the trees turning everything white. A gorgeous backdrop for my 11 miles (17.7 km) hike today. The trail itself always seemed to be free of snow.

When I arrived at Wayah Bald Shelter I was surprised to find it full.  This is the first time I arrived at a shelter and not got in. I think some of the hikers took a zero day in the shelter to skip the snow - a mistake in my opinion.

I found a relatively flat spot near the shelter and put my tent up in the falling snow.  Even though it was early I made my hot meal of the day and ate but it was so cold my hot meal turned tepid very soon.  I crawled into my tent and ate the rest of my daily allotment of food before hanging my food bag in a nearby tree.

Snow on my tent.
I crawled back into my tent early.  There wasn't anyone I knew in the shelter though I introduced myself to a few of the hikers.  I met Ambassador, Sunny and Letters.

It was going to be a cold night with probable subfreezing temperatures.  It was a night of many layers.

Day 19 - It didn't get as cold as I expected it to be which was a good thing.  I broke down my wet tent and headed out. The weather was weird starting with a lot of clouds.  As the trail climbed you entered a place where yesterday's snow was still hanging around but soon the higher temperatures made the snow and ice fall like a faux hailstorm.  The trail was soon covered in ice that crunched under your feet.

Panorama from the tower at the top of Wesser Bald.
Soon afterwards the snow was all gone and the skies cleared. From the watch tower on top of Wesser Bald you could see what I assume are the Smokey Mountains.  You could also see the snow on their peaks.

I pushed harder than planned today but it felt good though I'm glad I stopped at Wesser Bald Shelter. For those wondering what a shelter looks like:
Wesser Bald Shelter - three walls, a floor, and a roof.
Day 20 - Today was a short 6 mile (9.7 km) day into the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC). It's a favorite stop for hikers. They offer resupply, gear, food, zip lines, whitewater rafting, and kayaking.

I spent most of the day recuperating from my two long days, resupplying, taking in calories (i.e. eating junk food), and resting up for the climb tomorrow. My garbage bag had leaked inside my food bag over the last couple days so I rinsed the bag in the river behind the camp store. Somewhere here I bought an NOC magnet and promptly lost it.

With hindsight I think I probably should have moved on after I'd eaten and resupplied.

The hills and valleys are turning green.
Next stop, Fontana Dam and the entrance to the Smokey Mountains.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 141.46 Miles (227.66 km)
Section Distance: 28.13 Miles (45.27 km)
Section Elevation Up: 5,806 ft (1,770 m)
Section Elevation Down: 7,962 ft (2,427 m)

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