We left Hot Springs and camped a mere 3.5 miles out of town. Mark and I were feeling lazy so we stopped at an excellent pond, kicked back with a haebar and enjoyed the southern springtime. The next day we clambered over balds and waded through thick patches of spring beauties. During our hike toward Erwin, Tennessee, we crossed the border out of North Carolina and into Tennessee a few times. The biggest decision of my day was which state I should take a shit in.
It was May Day and spring was busting out all over. During this section of the Trail I continued to identify new plants. The May apples were blooming in thick groves and I couldn’t wait to try the ripe fruit. I was also introduced to edible plants from the lily family called ramps. These plants grew in large patches and it was easy to harvest a fistful within minutes. I added the oniony bulbs to our dinners to liven up the menu. As for wildlife, I saw a couple of lizards, examined a huge, jewel-like millipede, stepped on a green snake, flushed some grouse and watched many buzzards fly overhead.
Mark and I continued to enjoy walking over balds and spent a great night with Lido Bandito at the recently constructed Big Bald Shelter. It was one of my favorite shelters with its great privy and icy cold spring. The privy featured a walnut toilet seat and a 360 degree view of Virginia as you did your business. The next day we hiked a grueling 16 miles to Nolichucky over High Rocks, through Whistling Gap, followed by a grind out of Spivey Gap, a battle with the blowdowns at No Business Knob and finally the knee damaging descent off of Temple Ridge.
Mark and I spilled out onto the road and snagged a ride to Nolichucky Expeditions. We “rented” a camp spot and shower rights at the Expedition Headquarters, sharing our tarp site with Lido Bandito. He stayed behind with the stuff and we went into Erwin, Tennessee for some supplies, including pizza and beer. I walked into the Erwin Pizza Hut and as I’m opening the door, the entire town has a power failure. The patrons of the pizza place assumed I had something to do with it and collectively sucked wind and set their accusing gazes upon me. I shrugged sheepishly and said innocently, “I didn’t do it.” Some nervous laughter and a large pizza to go and I was outa there. The Buckle of the Bible Belt, as Erwin is known as, is no place for a scraggly, stinky, Trail rat (such as myself) to be hanging around. Back to Nolichucky we went to enjoy the pizza and beer.
…continue the expedition, read: Greetings, Uncle Nick Grindstaff [link]