Thursday, April 11, 2013

The NOC, Onward and Upward

The 2500' descent to the Nantahala River from Wesser Bald Shelter was tough on my old knee bones. But the promise of a shower, laundry, two hots and a cot was motivating.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center is a big commercial enterprise catering to rafting, kayaking and to hikers. It straddles the AT, and provides all the services mentioned above, plus short term resupply and a well stocked outfitter. A bunk was $19 and change, and they offer spendier options for those who crave more privacy. And the staff is great.

I availed myself of most of the amenities, picked up a box of food I had mailed there, and turned in early. The next morning, I bought a T-shirt and a visor, packed a box with a few things, and mailed it from their stone admin building.

Then headed up...

2960' in 6.7 miles, with a fully replenished pack makes for a tough day. Beautiful lookouts, walks across ridges with views on both sides, hot sun on the south facing slopes, deep shade going thru rhododendron thickets, rocky patches, and a final steep ascent to Swim Bald kept it interesting. I ran into Wheels, Mailman Dan, Gracie, Re-Run and Tu-Tu, and we leap frogged each other all the way to the top. I was never so happy to see a shelter come into view.

Till I got there...

Sassafras Gap Shelter is a two deck structure with a great fire ring, a piped spring in front, and about a billion black flies.

So, the conundrum. A big, nasty thunderstorm is forecasted for the following day. My plan was to stay here through the storm and head out the following day. But these flies. They're maddening. And I managed to sprout a couple of blisters. The others cameled-up and headed out to find a less buggy camp site. I decided to set up my tent and escape the plague, and patch my feet.

Tomorrow I'll reassess the sichiashun...


  1. Nice post. I'm surprised the black flies are out so soon, though I'm thinking New England. Good luck with the weather!

    1. Those flies were all thru the section, and swarmed us every time we took a break. A lot of us have the welts to show for it!

  2. Glad to see you're making great progress. I can't wait to hear about your experience in the Smokies. This weekend is supposed to be beautiful around the southern Appalachians - that should be helpful.

    1. Thanks. I know I didn't really write about the Smokies, and I do have a lot to say. I'll be backfilling stuff like that over the next several weeks.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.