Section 19 (AT in a Day)

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US 321/Rt.67 in Hampton, Tenn to US Rt.19W near Emestville - 91.2 miles

Section Chief: Melanie Parnon '13

Spivey Gap/U.S.19W to Sams Gap/U.S.23/I-26 - 13.4 miles

Hiker: Chris Markworth

Trip report

Sams Gap/U.S.23/I-26 to Devil Fork Gap/N.C.212 - 8.5 miles

Hikers: Susan Richhart, Earlene, Edmee

It was a rainy, foggy day, but a great hike nonetheless. Attached are some photos--sorry--not too many vistas to view today.

Devil Fork Gap/N.C.212 to Allen Gap/N.C.208/Tenn.70 - 20.1 miles

Hikers: Doug Gray '80, Jay Anderson

A few weeks ago a friend( Doug Gray) sent me an email of a link to his alma mater- Dartmouth College. It was from the DOC(Dartmouth Outing Club). They were planning on celebrating their 100 anniversary by hiking the Appalachian Trail in one day. A/T in a Day. The DOC is one of the great clubs along the A/T and I was in right away.

As it got closer to Oct 10th, I still hadn’t picked a route. I was helped a bit by the fact the DOC had plenty of hikers committed from Maine to Virginia and Georgia to the Nantahala area of NC. That left a big hole in the North Carolina- Tennessee part of the trail. This made it easier to pick. My first venture onto the A/T was 15+ years ago with a few friends and we hiked the Devil’s Fork Gap to Allen Gap section. I was 41, out of shape , a smoker and did it on a dare. It nearly killed me. This section took two days then and if my car had been by I would have quit and gone home. I was miserable, feet blistered, wet, hungry-”what the hell was I thinking?”. Time for redemption!!! So I signed up for that section……. Now this wasn’t as crazy as it sounds…. I have done a lot of hiking since and probably in better shape. But I was planning on doing it in one day, by myself, 21 miles over what I remembered as some of the roughest part of the trail in the South.

I knew I needed to get up early Saturday if I was going to do this is one day. Two and a half hour drive, 21 mile hike, two and a half hour drive home. Gonna be a long day. Got up at 4am, Murphy and Bailey rolled over and gave me a look like “what are you doing up?” Everything was packed and we were off by 4:10 am. Everything was closed so we stopped in Asheville for breakfast at Bojangles around 6am. I had a sausage,egg and cheese biscuit and the dogs had a sausage biscuit each. Gotta keep the puppies happy…. It was just getting light when we got to Devils Fork Gap around 6:30 am. It was rather misty and foggy. Murphy immediately went under the fence to check out the cows. Bailey looked out of the car, decided it was too wet for her and laid back down. We were finally ready and crossed the road and headed south. 6:40 am……

We took off into the woods, following the white blazed trail. It wasn’t raining yet but everything was pretty wet. Murphy and Bailey started as usual, running wild into the woods. And no, I didn’t have them on a leash. It was about a 2.7 mile hike to the shelter over rolling trail. At about the 2 mile mark we ran into rock fields on the trail. Not big boulders but smaller rocks in an area maybe 200 yrds wide and extending from the ridgeline to our right and down as far as I could see to my left. Water was running like a small stream over them making them slick and muddy. Bailey didn’t like this. We arrived at Flint Mtn Shelter 8am. Murphy and Bailey had their can of Vienna Sausages.

Well, we had hung out at the shelter for a while but then we had to get moving. Flint Mtn was looming ahead. My recollection of this part of the trail is the thing nightmares are made of. Time to get it over with…. The first 15 minutes or so were Ok. I thought this isn’t to bad…. And it only got worse. First the rain started again. We were on a reasonable switchback, not stressing too much. Murphy was having a good time, chasing everything that moved. Bailey was looking more and more miserable, staying right at my feet, behind me. We came to a fork and took the right path. We were in a rhododendron “tunnel” and going uphill. The short easy switchbacks came to a halt. Now the uphill climbs were 100 yards or so and at maybe a 10* grade. This is named Flint Mtn for a reason. The rock was like gravel but sharp and “flinty”. With the rain, we were walking in a small stream uphill. My pace of 2.5 miles per hr had dropped to nearly 1 mile per hr. I took off my rain coat because I was sweating too much. Normally I walk 50 minutes and rest 10 minutes. Now it was going from walk 30,rest 5 to walk 15, rest 2. The 2 mile hike up Flint Mtn took nearly 2 hours. And then we came to the top of the ridge…. And all was good…. After the long slog up Flint Mountain the open area came as a welcome site. On a side trail we went over to the Shelton Grave site. During a particularly bad period our nations history, The War of Northern Aggression(or as y’all from the DOC call it “The American Civil War”), much of the NC/Tenn mountain areas were aligned with the Union. The Shelton family had many of their sons fighting in Northern Units. William and David Shelton were returning home for a reunion when they were ambushed by Confederate troops and killed. This is their grave sites. We then continues ahead over Big Butt Mountain. While the rain had slowed up we were in a very damp enviroment, with the cloud hanging right on the mountain. This section covered another 3.5 miles of ridge walks and open pastures and fields.

Jerry Cabin Shelter is/was rather uneventful. I remember this shelter as the nastiest one I had ever been in. It hadn’t changed much. There was a fireplace in it that smelled to high heaven. I would have had to be pretty desperate to sleep in this place. This was just a resting place for the next 7.5 miles. We had now covered 8.5 miles through rain and a tough uphill climb in 5 hours. I had a peanut butter,jelly and banana sandwich. Murphy and Bailey had some dried chicken stripes and a bagel. Bailey had gotten her second wind We rested for about 30 minutes and then took off. Bad part is my camera had gotten damp(go figure that?) and was acting up. I wrapped it up in a dry shirt hopping it would dry out. The next 7.5 miles was mostly ridgeline, with little change in elevation- maybe 500ft up and down.

Gotta’ love the names in this area…Big Butt Mtn, LickLog Cap, Firescald Bald, Bearwallow Gap,Huckleberry Gap. It had started to rain again so we took the “Bad Weather Route”. Not sure if the dogs could make the exposed ridge trail. At the 12.3 mile mark were the White Rock Cliffs. The rocks in this area are hard quartzite formed from the sand of an old beach along the shore of the continent at a time when the ocean came to this area of North America 500 million yrs ago. Gives you an interesting perspective on the area. Next was a slight uphill climb for a mile or so followed by a 1.5 mile downhill hike with a 1000 foot change in elevation. We had now covered 15.4 miles in around 8.5 hrs.

Not much to say about Little Laurel Shelter. Nice stopping place on the way to Allen Gap. The low clouds and rain had started again.

When I hiked this section 15 yrs ago, my feet and knees hurt so bad. They are sore now but nothing like that day. I remember Ronnie Perry singing a Bruce Springsteen song- “Allentown”-. For 3 hours he sang in an irritating voice “Going down to Allen Gap….” I wanted to strangle him! That was then and now I can’t get that stupid song out of my head. Anyway, Kind of an anticlimactic finish to the day. My biggest thrill in the last section was seeing my car at the trail head at Allen Gap. I had made arrangements with “Max” in Hot Springs to move my car from Devil’s Fork Gap to Allen Gap during the day. I had left my car unlocked with the keys and $20 in it for him. Sure enough it was there when I finished.

Have to say a good word for Hot Springs NC. What a great trail town. Everyone there is friendly and wanting to help. After a long hike you have to go to the Smoky Mountain Diner. Adsolutely the best southern home cooking on the trail. I had the Trail Burger with pintos on the side and it was soooo good. Hard to describe. Staff is very friendly also.

Allen Gap/N.C.208/Tenn.70 to Hurricane Gap/Lookout Mt. Rd. - 9.3 miles

Hiker: Ted Farrell '86

Trip report

Hurricane Gap/Lookout Mt. Rd. to Bridge on US Rt.25/Rt.70 - 5.4 miles

Hiker: Karen Daniels '94

After having October 10th on my calendar for months, it became increasingly clear that I would have a hard time breaking away from a busy semester to drive four or five hours to the mountains of North Carolina to participate. But, as the increasingly persistent emails and phone calls came in from Hanover, I made the familiar decision to chuck academic responsibility and head to the woods for a bit of rejuvenation from the mountain air.

I had coordinated with Ted Farrell '84 over email prior to leaving, since he and his kids had the section adjacent to ours. Once we met up in the morning, we swapped sections, coordinated a car shuttle to avoid back-tracking, and set off into the drizzle. From Allen Gap along the NC/TN border, my husband Todd Vision and I climbed up to the ridge through the beautiful rhododendron forests that the NC mountains are famous for. As we dipped up and down along the ridge, we never left the clouds: these aren't called the Smoky Mountains for nothing! I can't quite say that it was raining, but the cloud was condensing into droplets all around us: our clothes, our lunch, and the trees were all bathed by cool moisture. In lieu of a triumphant vista, our photo (taken by my husband) is primarily of the cloud that accompanied us the whole way to Hurricane Gap.

An unexpected boon was the juxtaposition of early fall colors with late summer wildflowers. The drive into and out of the mountains was happily below the level of the clouds, and filled with bright colors starting to pop out of the green. Along the trail, late-blooming bottle gentians and gaudy fungus reveling in the moisture kept us close company, in lieu of any fall colors which might have been visible but for our clouds.

A further note to organizers: Ted Farrell ended up hiking the southern part of the whole (15-mile-ish) Rt. 208 to downtown Hot Springs route, and we took the northern part, dividing it at Hurricane Gap. His trip report will likely involve less mist and more tired feet: the split was not as even as the map had led us to believe!

Karen Daniels '94

Bridge on US Rt.25/Rt.70 to Lemon Gap/N.C.1182 - 14.4 miles

Hikers: Allie Ivanowicz, Becky Whitten, Matt Johnson

We hiked the 14 miles from Lemon Gap to Hot Springs in six hours. We began around 9:30 am in a steady drizzle that continue throughout the day. We were soaked through by the end but thrilled to have completed the stretch. The changing leaves were incredible and we frequently paused to admire the reds and yellows, until the chill hit us and we had to keep moving.

Thanks so much to the DOC for getting us out on the trail. It was exciting to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. The section we hiked is part of the Davidson Outdoors' (Davidson College) freshman orientation program during the summer. As Davidson students, it was cool to see different outdoors programs coming together to complete this big task!

Despite the rain, the hike was rewarding. It is always wonderful to be outdoors, especially when you have a big slice of blackberry pie waiting for you at the Smoky Mountain Diner. Mmmm!

Allie Ivanowicz, Davidson '10 Becky Whitten, Davidson '11 Matt Johnson, Davidson '12

Lemon Gap to N.C.1182/Max Patch Road - 6.2 miles

Hiker: Courney Bell '96

Trip report

===Max Patch/N.C.1182 to Davenport Gap/Tenn.32 - 15.2 miles

Hiker: Joe Bachman '91

Trip report

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