Brian's Hike on the Appalachian Trail(7)
February 20, 2000 until ????

brianshike7 : Mar 15 to Mar 27

Brian's Journal

A Mt. Hostel
Wednesday, March 15, 2000 ~~20 miles today to Little Laurel Shelter/ 164 till Damascus, VA

After a long day of good hiking, I was met at the shelter by four of the dumbest, most obnoxious southern boys I've ever met. They're all on a spring break from UNC Chapel Hill. Oh well. There's the hardcore ring leader with all sorts of hiking tricks like, "You know, if you hang your food, the mice won't go through your pack." Thanks slick!

But anyway, today was a good, long day. After an amazing breakfast at Elmer's, I finally got on the trail around 10:30. It took a mile to get back in stride, but after that I felt great. I ran into Roadrunner and her giant wolf dog about 8 miles north of Hot Springs. She's finishing up her section of hiking, having had a great two weeks. I ate lunch with another group of 8 spring breakers. Anyway, these four morons are throwing each other's boots outside and going on like 9 year olds, so I'm going to end this now. OK. Goodnight. (It will be if I kill these guys!) HeeHeeHee---evil cackle.

No worries. BG

Thursday, March 16, 2000 ~~13 miles today to Flint Mtn. Shelter After a rainy day of hiking, I got here and warmed up by 2:30, and haven't left my sleeping bag since. (It's 4:45 now.) I'm here with Monk and Sara, and I'm waiting for either Raphael or the Quebec duo to show up, but since all my wet stuff is taking half of the shelter, I won't be too sad if they don't. Monk is a bit arrogant, but he'll be finished with the trail by the time I get back to Erwin. It's crazy to think that I'll get to see Jaimie in only 2 days. Pretty exciting. I woke up to strong winds and rain clouds and those four bumbling southern idiots. Unfortunately I missed all the views today. I just hope it clears up by the time I get to Big Bald tomorrow afternoon. I think I'd like to come back here sometime and section hike from Erwin to Davenport. It really is nice here, and the hiking is great. It's funny that a 13-mile day feels like a short day now. I guess I'm starting to catch my legs. I guess that's all there is to write about, so I 'll go listen to some more of the fine, fine music, " you know my life was saved by rock-n-roll..." And it was all right....

No worries. Billy Goat

A Great Day!
March 17, 2000 18.8 miles today to Bald Mtn. Shelter/ 134 until Damascus

Today was possibly my favorite day yet. It started painfully by waking up in the middle of a cloud. Nothing dried from the day before, and my gear and I were all cold and damp. But karma rolled around, and once I finally braved up to my wet clothes and got ready to get going, I was met by 3 miles of beautiful, level, grassy, trial down to Devil's Fork Gap. Everything was misty and growing and green and amazing. From Devils Fork though, the trail got pretty ghetto. It passed thru some backwoods trailer trash yards, complete with garbage and rusting auto parts. I even heard gun shots as I was hiking out of the gorge. Anyway, by about noon the sun was starting to break up the clouds, and the wind was blowing them away. At one point I was up on a ridge, and above me and to my left were clear blue skies, but to my right was a valley full of fog. It would get blown up to the ridge, wisp over it less than 3 feet off the ground, then disappear into the clear sky. It was really neat.

High Winds Adventure
But the best part of my day didn't happen till after lunch. A little after 2, Raphael and I started to climb Big Bald from Sam's Gap. It was a nice climb, and by the afternoon there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We finally got to the top, after thinking we had 0.8 miles to go from about 3 miles before the top. But anyway, Big Bald is incredible!! It was the most impressive mountain/ bald I've climbed yet. Right as I got out of the woods to the foot of the bald, the ghost moon was rising up over the yellow grass, being lit by a late 5:30 sun. All the branches on the shrubs were coated with ice, so the whole mountainside glistened in the sunlight. From the top there were incredible 360-degree views. It was simply amazing!! There's nothing more I can say. I wanted to watch the sunset from up there, but it was a breezy 30 degrees, so my body told me otherwise. I did spend about 15 minutes along right before the last bit of bald met the treeline coming down to the shelter. It was so good just to sit there and watch the colors get richer and more colorful, making the ice glow. It was amazing! And tomorrow I have ALYCE pizza, Erwin, and most importantly my bestest friend Jaimie to meet. So all is well. A great day, a great mountain, and excitement to look forward to. I'll sleep well tonight.

No Worries. BG

March 18, 2000 16 miles today to Erwin 116.2 miles to Damascus and 338.3 miles from Springer

Our Self-Portrait:
Jaimie and Brian in Erwin
Technically today is the 19th and I'm recalling the events of yesterday in my mind. I met up with Jaimie last night which was super exciting. Yesterday I woke to FREEZING temperatures and a frozen solid water bag. It took a long time to get the motivation to leave my sleeping bag. But once I did it was a nice walk. At lunch we met the Dude ("we" meaning Raphael, Sara, and I); he thru hiked in '98, and was doing some hiking from Damascus to Springer to get in shape for the PCT. Really great guy. I liked him a lot. Anyway, from there I ran down to Uncle Tony's Hostel and called Doreen for Jaimie's phone number, called Jaimie, and heard that she was in ERWIN!!! Craziness. After an hour of shock, she drove Raphael, Sara and me to Pizza Hut where we ate like Tazmanian Devils. Her car is sort of broken, so we got a ride down to the Southside where I said good-bye for now to Raphael and Sara and got a motel room with Jaimie. So as of now I am officially on a lazy vacation from my vacation, and will thus discontinue these writings until I return to the woods. OK. Adios. No Worries---BG

( An E-Mail Sent March 20, 2000 from Erwin, NC)

hello everyone! i'm writing this from erwin. i met up with jaimie with no major problems, and i've been enjoying the life of a sloth for the past couple of days. i found a REAL scale, and i did not lose 15 pounds, in fact i'm still a bulky 160. (bulky meaning t-rex body type; big legs, spindly arms) anyway, the hike from hot springs was great. the trail is nicely maintained, and it sort of wanders through the valleys occasionally climbing a huge mountain. it's a nice change from the inflated ego of the georgia trail maintainers who like to take you up and down every major mountain there is. i did have a couple days of rain, but nice temps, and it all cleared up for me right before i climbed big bald, which has been my favorite mountain of this whole trip. it's a huge bald with great 360 views. i got there around 5:30, so the lighting was real dramatic and intense, lighting up the ice in the trees surrounding the summit. (it was about 25 degrees at the windy top) i wanted to stay and watch the sunset, but my body told me it was too cold. anyway, jaimie and i are having a great time in this southern metropolis, and my body is enjoying it's vacation from the hills of appalachia. so all is well. i hope you all are enjoying yourselves with whatever you're doing, and i'll see you all later. no worries, brian

ps dad, i feel like a celebrity with the web-site and all. pretty impressive, nice job!


March 22,2000 17 miles today to Little Bald Knob and 99 miles to Damascus

After an excellent four days of rest and relaxation with Jaimie in Erwin, I returned to the trial today. I had a great visit with Jaimie, but as always it ended with a bittersweet farewell. After saying goodbye at the trailhead, I realized that my raincoat was still in her car. Jaimie noticed it too and ran to meet me with the coat; so we had another weepy farewell.

The morning walk was very beautiful. Real nice walk among the streams flowing down to the Nolichuky River. My favorite part of the day today was climbing over Unaha Mtn. There was a pine forest on the summit, so it was like an enchanted forest on top of a mountain. Real beautiful--looks a lot like the Long Trail did.

Small World! I passed a bunch of Ed's friends from Colby today. I recognized 2 or 3 of them from when I went to visit him. They were out for a couple of days for their spring break. I'm behind Raphael, Sara, Terrapin and Basco---but I haven't heard anything about Nate and Shaman. I don't think many people slipped by me on my time off though. Reading some Trailplace journals made me even more glad I'm up ahead of the masses. I'm tenting out for the first time tonight, up on a ridge before Little Bald. OK. I'm losing my light, so I'm going to end this. OK No Worries. Billy Goat

A Valley View
March 23, 2000 hiked 15 miles to Roan High Knob Shelter/ 85 to Damascus

After a great day without passing a soul, I got up to Roan High Knob Shelter to meet 8 "good ol boys" from Memphis. So I ate my Ramon and potato flakes as they ate their T-bone steaks and fresh fish fillets (they came all of 1.3 miles from Carter Gap.) They all don't want to hike th e 50 yards to the spring, so they're melting snow for tomorrow's water. But what can one do? This is a great shelter though, more like a cabin with a big upstairs to sleep in and a good sized downstairs for packs. (One guys talking to his wife on a cell-phone right now.) But anyway, I woke up in my tent around 5:50, but stayed in to sleep and read until the sun dried off the dew. I ran down to Iron Gap where I walked to Moffit's General Store to call Jaimie and make sure she got home alright, which she did. Moffit's was classic. They had everything from candy to fox-pee, but everything had been on the shelf for a minimum of 5 years, so a lot of stuff looked like it was from a vintage shop. Or, I should say a weird vintage shop, specializing in 1970's Chap-Stick and baby diapers. I got a stale Baby-Ruth and a really stale Twix. I should have known since neither had the current wrapper designs. But they were still good, even if I had to eat some Baby Ruth wrapper that wouldn't let go of the bar. Anyway, the hike to Clyde Smith Shelter was pretty unexciting. From there I climbed (on hands and knees from boulder to boulder) up to Little Rock Bald. Great views south of Unaka and beyond. After that it was a beautiful walk down, then a huge climb up to Roan. Real tough 3 miles, but the last mile was incredible. Looked like Unaka and VT with fir forest and balsam smells. It was so nice to see snow bring out the rich greens of the moss and evergreens. Really, really nice. No special views from the bald, but I did feel like I was high, over 6,000 feet. I can see all the balds I'll be walking over, and they look like they're going to be fun. So here I am, ready for bed in a great shelter with terrible company. OK. good-night. No Worries. BG
Lakes and Mountains

--- March 24, 2000 Hiked 14.1. miles today to Apple House Shelter (70 till Damascus)

Today was probably my single favorite day of my trip. Great, hard hiking with incredible views for a reward. From Roan Shelter it was a nice hike downhill 1.3 miles to Carter Gap, where I ate breakfast and made good use of the privy (there aren't any at the shelters until Virginia). Right out of Carters Gap I climbed up to Round Bald and walked a bald ridge for several miles. It was just amazing! It was hard to keep my camera in my pack. I think I snapped off about 14 shots. Everything was just ideal---clear skies, great views in every direction, temps around 65.....simply amazing.

Right before the AT dropped off the ridge, I took the path less traveled by up to Grassy Ridge, and it made all the difference. Grassy Ridge is the only spot near the AT with natural 360 degree views above 6,000 feet. It is my favorite spot. It really is on top of the world. you look down on everything---the tops of near-by balds, the farms and houses WAY down in the valley, the tops of clouds, everything. I just stayed up there by myself loving everything and thanking any gods that cared to listen. It is the one spot that I feel represents my trip so far. I can't express how great it is; I mean I want to get married up there someday! When the time came for me to leave, I couldn't bring myself to say "good-bye," so I just said "see you later" and left it at that. So I strode down my mountain humming that awesome Copland song NJYS (New Jersey Youth Symphony) played at the governor's ball, the Shaker Melody or something like that. At that point I was so intoxicated on a mountain high or runner's high or whatever you want to call it, that if I had met some crazy Shaker's I would have thrown down my pack and danced with them. I'd even consider spending my life with those crazy simpletons!
Balding Peaks

These mountains are just amazing. And this was just my morning. I climbed up Little Hump for lunch, then down to a gap and up Hump Mtn. I have a fascination with Hump Mtn. It just looks so beautiful, I think half the pictures I took today were of it. This whole Roan Highland area is definitely worth another visit maybe sometime in June when the wildflowers are at their peak.

It was a strange walk down from Hump, it's just amazing how fast everything changes out here. Within 2 miles I was crossing the backyards of Tennessians and the trees looked like they did 2 days ago, almost like I imagined my day up in the clouds. Time is odd out here. I realized today that I've been gone for over a month, yet it feels like I left Springer yesterday. I was able to recall every shelter I've stayed at, and each one is as fresh in my mind as it was when I was there. I guess time is easy to lose when you don't have classes, and appointments and television shows reminding you that it's moving along. Out here I wake up when the sun tells me to, walk while its out, then sleep when it goes away. When I say it like that I'm amazed at how monotonous it sounds. But it's not. Everything is special, every moment, every mile. I wonder if I'll remember that feeling when I look back at these writings when I'm 75. I hope I do, and I'm sure I will.

OK that is all I have to say about that. BG

P.S. One nauseating side note. After stopping to get what I thought was a rock out of my boot, I realized a chunk of callused fleshed had fallen off my foot and was causing a new blister. Kind of like the circle of life!

March 25, 2000 Hiked 14.3 miles today to Moreland Gap Shelter (56.4 till Damascus)

Well if yesterday was my most favorite day, this has been my least. Funny how hiking karma rolls around so fast! I'm lying in my bag listening to rain drops hitting the tin roof above me at Moreland Gap Shelter, hoping the bits of duct tape on the ceiling will keep me dry. What looked like an incredibly easy 14 miles on the Data Book ended up kicking my ass. Looking back, I do remember Monk warning me about this section, but I didn't like him so I ignored his warning. Today was just a lot of little ups and downs, but real steep and completely unrelenting. A lot like Georgia actually. It just zigged and zagged over every bump it could find.

But anyway. .... The first couple of miles were real odd. The trail pretty much went from property line to property line, passing real close to a lot of lower income houses. At one point it took me thru some guy's Christmas tree garden. This is the area everyone tells you to watch yourself in, but given the circumstances you can't blame the locals for being a bit mad with us. First of all, I hear a lot of the trail was more or less forcefully taken from the locals. Then add to that the fact that we go trotting through their backyards with packs alone that cost as much as their living expenses for half a year. I didn't have any problems though. There was a sketchy teenager looking over my stuff in the shelter this morning when I got back from digging a hole, but he talked for a while then went back to his car. (The shelter was 1/2 mile from 19 E.)

I spent the last 2 nights with Beetle, a very odd junior at UVM who reminds me of Charlie's roommate. He's pretty hardcore though, he started the 27th and hopes to be done in early July or late June. I'm here tonight with an older section hiker, who's like an overweight, middle-aged and married version of Forest Gump. I like him, he's tenting out, even though T-storms are probable. (Like I said, he ain't the swiftest boat in the fleet.) Anyway, I'm dry as of now, and hopefully I'll stay that way. No Worries. BG


March 26,2000 Hiked 16.4 today to Watauga Lake Shelter (40 till Damascus)

I'm here tonight with Dolphin who is one of the most honest and sincere persons I've ever met. He joined up with the Navy at 18, and has "bummed around" his whole life. Went to college on the GI Bill, was a nature conservationist, worked at a coffee shop in California......He's a recovering alcoholic and ended up on the AT when his car broke down while taking a year to hike around the National Parks in the West. He figured it was cheaper to walk than fix his car. He's a huge believer in destiny, and he always thought he would marry a girl named Mary. While in the Smokies he was looking down at some lights, and asked a woman who was with him if she knew what town they were looking at. She said "Marysville" and Dolphan realized that he misunderstood his destiny, and he should live in a town called Mary. So that's his plan, his hike is complete. He plans to hike to Harper's Ferry, then go on to Maine if he hasn't got all the bugs out of him or else move in with a Navy friend in Mississippi and learn to be a truck driver. Then he'll make some dollars and buy a place in Marysville. He figures it's in Tennessee, his homeland, but far enough from his old friends so he won't be able to go party with them. I like him a lot, sort of a real life Dharma Bum, and he has incredible life stories to tell.

But anyway today was good. Nice hike down to Denis Cove where I was torn between marching onward or going to get a burger at a hostel 1/2 mile away. Without too much turmoil I opted for option B. As I got near (I was walking with a local guy out for his exercise) I thought I saw Raphael. Sure enough, he was there drinking a coke. He apparently hurt his ankle on the ice on Roan, and has been staying at the Kincorn Hostel for a couple of days. So I ate my burger, had a nice visit with Raphael, then got a ride back to the trail.

What an afternoon! The first 3 miles followed the Laurel River down to Laurel Falls. It was a completely new type of hiking, new scenery, new trail, new everything. A nice change of pace. It's a popular day hiking spot, so I saw plenty of people. Then I had a big up and a big down to get up and over Pond Flat, and came down to Watango Lake where I took a monkey shower and laid on the swimming area for a bit. It's like Round Valley, a dam with a lot of recreation. Anyway, I hiked 2 miles to here, ate, then talked with Dolphin all evening. It's nice to have caught up with my crew again, although I'm glad I was alone for Roan and Hump. Grandad is with Raphael at Kincorn tonight, and Terrapin and Basco Rider and Sara are in Boone. So all is well, and only 2 (or 3) days to Damascus. Not too shabby.

No worries. BG)

March 27, 2000 Hiked 22 miles today to Doble Springs Shelter / 18 to Damascus

Not a whole lot to say about today. I walked a long way and got really wet. Looking forward to pizza and Damascus. Trail angel left a Milwakee's Best with my name on it tied to a tree. Cheap beer never tasted finer! OK...I'm tired, so I'm going to bed. Easy walking today, hopefully a preview of VA!. No Worries. BG

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