Flashback – AT99 – Apr 12

Watauga Lake Shelter

Chilly, 40 deg F, clear.

Walked all day with Oreo (the dog I rescued/fed/adopted).  Went through Laurel Fork Gorge – very cool w/ a big waterfall.  Dog and I had a bit of a swim.   After some reroute, today ended up at 16.4 miles.  Hiked all day alone, awesome.  There was a huge climb up out of the gorge, which sucked – late in the day, low on water, low energy.

Got to the road at 6:30 or so, walked about a mile with Oreo on leash before these 2 guys in a truck picked us up.   All that was open/exists here besides “revival” tents is a gas station, but they had a 4lb bag of dogfood and some weak resupply stuff.  For 11 bucks, damn.

While I was there, an over-made-up woman approached me and then asked if I “knew Jesus”.  But she wasn’t concerned about my wellbeing enough to offer me a ride back to the trail.

We got a quick hitch though, helping her up into the back of another truck.   Technically I guess I yellow-blazed, since they dropped me off closer than the first road crossing.  Just as I got here, Little Engine steamed in, maybe 8:15.

The guy in the truck on the way back mentioned something about someone named “Festus” to his wife – like that’s a real, southern name!

Today felt good for being long – gonna try and push to Damascus (40 mi) in 2 days, supposedly this section of trail AKA the Tennessee Turnpike, is easy.  About 1000′ climb up to what looks like a long, flattish ridge.  As long as I leave before 11am (for a change), 20 should be doable.  21.5 is a shelter.  Oreo seems to have no trouble keeping up with me all day, although she flopped right down as soon as we got here.   She also crashed right out on Little Engine’s Ridgerest, then I kicked her off and she laid on my bag.   There’s an old Tshirt here, which is now her bed.

Also here in the shelter – items (not trail names) – maple syrup, cream of wheat, a Nerf football, salt, some Febreeze (for bugs maybe?) and an autographed book about Appalachian culture.   Pretty cool.

Better go brush teeth.