Friday, October 21, 2011
North Carolina AT- Fontana Lake to Nantahala OC
Day one: Hwy 28 to Cody Gap 8.8 Miles
Day two: Cody Gap to Locust Cove Gap 8.8 Miles
Day three: Locust Cove Gap to NOC 10 Miles
Total 27.6 Miles
Time for the annual Father-Son outing. We all threw out ideas and it came out to a vote to do some more of the Appalachian trail. North Carolina here we come. Steve came in and we all met at the ponderosa. We got to do the dragon twice as we dropped off the car at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Wesser, NC. It is always fun to watch the motorcycles try to keep up to Dad's van. I think we even passed some in the curves.
The next morning we did it again as we headed off to do some hiking. We started at the Hwy 28 trailhead by Fontana Lake. As is family tradition we start out uphill. So we climbed for three miles at a heart busting incline to the top of High Top mountain. We were counting on the Yellow Creek Mountain Trail as a sign that we were almost at the top. Well, they don't mark any of the trails off the AT in North Carolina so we just got to the top. If you take a side trail, you better know where it is at.
We learned another family trait. We would pull out the map and study on the hike for the day. In a matter of twenty steps, non of us could remember what we were going to come upon next. So out comes the map, a study of just the next bench mark. Twenty steps.....nothing!
We stopped at the Cable Gap Shelter to do a water resupply. It is an older shelter made with some major sized logs. The spring runs right next to it which is nice. From there we hiked across Hwy 1242 and on to Cody Gap. The Gaps are all signed so you do know where they are.
Cody Gap has a campsite right on the trail. The Wauchecha Bald Trail heads out from there, which you also follow to get to the spring. The main spring was dry, but water was about twenty feet down from it. There is also a campsite right there so that is where we stayed.
Entertainment for the night was Dad hanging the bear bag. We watched as he tied a softball sized rock to the end of the rope. He wound up and pitched to see the rock sail through the air, with no rope attached. This was going to get good! Again the wind up, the pitch, the rock sailing through the air. We pictured either the rock going through one of the hammocks, or the rope actually staying attached to swing back and nail him in the **##@@. Through our tear filled eyes, we see him finally tying to a stick and scoring.
It was a peaceful night with stars shining while we sat next to the fire. We heard an owl and a tree falling through the night. Luckily not one that the hammock was tied to.
The next morning we got up and headed out. We started out with an uphill climb. When you get to Hogback Gap, there are two fancy benches made of logs. There is no view or anything else here, but there are two fancy benches. After some serious climbing, we earned our first clear views of the mountains just before you go down into Brown Fork Gap.
Brown Fork Gap is a steep down hill and steep uphill. We stopped at the Shelter here for a rest and some water. This is the first shelter that I have seen with a mote around it. Not sure why, but the floor does not come all the way out to the front of the shelter. There are boards here to lay down so you can get across. There is also a shelter machete for what? We got our water from the spring and met the first two hikers on the trail. The man and wife had stopped for lunch. They were from Florida.
We finished the strenuous climb and then took a serious down hill to Sweetwater Gap. We took a break at Stecoah Gap at Hwy 143 where they have some picnic tables next to the road. Then is is time to climb again. 600 foot a mile climb. By the time we got to Locust Cove Gap, we were ready to stop for the night.
At camp there were three bear hunters. They had been chasing bears all over this mountain with the dogs all day. They were ready to go home......Great! Tired, hungry, and mad bears to sleep with tonight. Just our luck. We left Dad in charge of camp and went in search of the spring. DRY! Down the creek bed we go. Climbing through the Rodedemdrum thinking about those mad bears. Finally finding a puddle of water. We filled our containers and headed back to camp. Coming into camp thinking about the hunters, so we were whistling and singing "We are not bears, we are not bears."
Dad did a great job. He hadn't moved at all. We set up camp and then we left him in charge again as we climbed back down to the water whole for more.
We got a fire going and watched the stars. Life was good. Early to bed tonight.
Rain woke us up in the middle of the night and it poured. It rained into the morning.
In the morning we started out with a good climb. Up 1500 feet in two miles. Up to the best view on top of Cheoah Bald. OK, it was in the clouds and the rain poured down on us. We thought "cool" and then started the eight miles down.
We stopped at Sassafras Gap Shelter for lunch. A dry spot. This is where I found out that the Friends of the Smoky's take care of the Appalachian trail in North Carolina. A little note in the privy told me so.
The Jump-up is a serious climb section of the trail or for us South bound folks a serious down. It will work your everything if you were wondering. At the NOC there is a restaurant that serves ice cream. There is one big scoop covered with granola, cranberries, butterscotch, chocolate, and powered sugar. SWEET!
The NOC also has a train stop, a rafting place, stores, and a bunch more.
This section is a very strenuous section of the AT. There are alot of major ups and downs along with rocky sections, with loose rocks. A very good challenge.
Steve's Report and pics: