It was almost sad to leave the campsite 2 miles outside of Erwin, TN as we had spent the most time there compared to any place in the woods yet. But, on May 6th, we finally waved goodbye to the place we had zeroed and hiked on. We received trail magic from a man named Brother Tom at Indian Grave Gap that day. I was excited to graciously accept some coffee and banana bread that he made himself!
That night we camped near a place named Beauty Spot. Everyone was at camp fairly early, so we walked a path to a high spot where we were able to marvel at a beautiful sunset.
Perks is a member of “the family” who got his name honestly as he carries a percolator with him and often makes coffee in the mornings to share with the group. It’s not always easy to find a flat spot on the fire, but we make it work.
Being in the woods for long periods of time allows you to be creative in problem solving due to the absence of common comforts and technology. We often leave notes for each other since our phones stay off during most of our time on the trail.
We also find ways to entertain ourselves, such as playing practical jokes. One of the reoccurring pranks is the old rock in the pack trick. It’s aggravating when you realize you’ve carried extra weight over a big climb, but everyone else thinks it’s hilarious. Pure meanness.
May 7th was rainy on and off. However, we received trail magic from Rob Byrd who provided us with snacks and beverages at Iron Mountain Gap. Rob used to own a hostel in Massachussetts, but has since retired. Thank you, Rob for your kindness!
Next, I passed through Carver Gap and went over Jane Bald. It was really neat to see the storm coming from a distance. Although, I never anticipated how scary the storm would be.
When the rain hit, Mountain Goat and I were hiking together. Then the lighting came. We began racing down the mountain rushing for the next shelter. He was about 15 feet ahead of me when I watched a bolt of lightning strike to his right and saw it spark as it hit. He turned around with widened eyes and told me to get my foam sleeping pad out so we could sit down on it. Apparently, the foam helps insulate yourself from the ground. While we were sitting there, Mountain Goat said he had felt the current go through him when the lighting hit. That has definitely been the scariest moment of the trail yet..for both of us! After about five minutes we had calmed down enough to continue hiking. There were about 4 more miles to go that afternoon to reach Overmountain Shelter.
Overmountain Shelter is an old barn that holds over 20 hikers, easily. It’s the most unique shelter I’ve seen and slept in yet! Heidi and Perks found some ramps near the shelter, so we cooked them that night. It was a great addition to my dinner. Anything fresh and green is much appreciated!
I’m glad we got an early start, because we had to hike Hump Mountain that day. There was essentially no tree cover for most of the day, and I would not want to experience that in the heat of the day. It was a difficult climb, but the view was amazing!
“The Family” headed to Mountain Harbour Hostel in Roan Mountain, TN that afternoon for a shower and fresh laundry. The hostel is nice and although I didn’t stay, I would definitely recommend it based on the service I received while there.
We needed a hitch into town to resupply, and the folks at Bob’s Dairyland were nice enough to come pick the group up and take us back to the hostel. We were able to eat lunch and resupply–thanks for the help! If you’re ever that way, they have a decent menu and delicious milk shakes.