Day 13: April 27, 2022. Rocky Bald to NOC Elevation Profile +1072/-4171 9.9 Miles; Total 136.7 Miles

What a hap-hap-happy day! My friend Natalya will be meeting me today. She will be my new trail partner for the next few weeks. Our mutual friends Steve and Judy moved to, you guessed it, Tennessee. There’s has been a max exodus of Californians leaving for Tennessee. So needless to say, I’m beating feet to meet up with my friends today.

Natalya and I at NOC Trailhead Sign for AT

Recon and I hit the trail after the most glorious sunrise this morning. We had to negotiate this molten lava rock face to get back to the trail. We both made it unscathed and headed north. Today was a crazy descent of over 4000’. Who thinks this is a good idea to torture us hikers with this absolutely ridiculously steep downhill trail? We had an easy first few miles, some ups that helped me to get ready for the brutally steep downs.

Recon Negotiating Downhill Slide

There were a couple of highlights on the trail today. We made it to Weser Bald this morning. There is a 100 foot side trail that leads from the AT to Wesser Bald. A massive observation tower with an open deck is maintained by the Forest Service. The views from this tower are outstanding in all directions. With the blue bird sky, we could see in every location. I believe I could actually saw Wayah Tower, which was due south. This was the tower we climbed yesterday in the rain. It was stunning.

Weser Bald Fire Tower

Knowing we had a crazy 5-6 miles left of nothing but downhill, we left the tower. We walked down the steps, which are definitely not OSHA approved and made it back to the trail. We followed a ridge line for a bit of time and then the crazy downhill started. The AT is known for not having switchbacks. Their descents are handhold, butt sitting, knee throbbing, downhills grinds. It was touch and go as much of the trail was barely intact. Due to the steepness, the amount of rain eroding the trail away, much of what I was suppose to walk on was, let’s say, was not to my liking! Once again, there were many prayers as I slowly navigated the path.

Once I hit the somewhat more level section, oh my, the scenery was something out of “Lord of the Rings.” I saw my first red-headed woodpecker, very large and proud, pecking away at some poor defenseless tree. He was so beautiful with his big red crown and black and white bird body. Quite a sight. The forest was as lush as anything I have witnessed on the trail to date. There were ferns, dogwoods in bloom, springs flowing, and flowers blooming. It was a sight to see.

Miniature Iris

Finally after 4-5 hours of downhill slog, to my surprise I saw the most beautiful sight, my friends Natalya, Judy and Steve! I was pretty close to tears. There is something so special about seeing friends when you are so far away from home. We hugged, laughed and was absolutely thrilled to pieces. We hiked the last half mile together and before I knew it, we were at Natahala Outdoor Center NOC.

Magical Forest

Recon went on his way and soon caught up with others he knew from the trail. Me and my friends stopped to eat lunch at the Rivers Edge Restaurant, the best place to eat in town, and the only place to eat. Their specialty is trout and French fries. I had both! Oh, how nice it was to sit and eat with silverware, napkins and plates. The food was scrumptious and I ate every last morsel.

Hiking with Recon before NOC

Steve and Judy drove me and Natalya to our new accommodations at Gorgeous Stays. It’s a cute place that has individually decorated cabins with themes. Ours was New Orleans. Purple and Red with Louis Armstrong posters, light fixture made from a trombone and zebra stripped plush pillows. It was perfect.

Judy and Steve at our New Orleans Hone

After hiking close to ten miles, and over 13 days without a full day off, I broke the news to Natalya that I needed a zero. A Zero day is when you don’t hike any miles for a full day. Poor Natalya. She was so ready to hit the trail and I’m asking her to wait one more day. We slept good in our New Orleans decorated home. It is wonderful to have my friend with me and to have a full and complete day of rest.

Toasting to Friends that will Hike with Me

Looking back on the past two weeks, I am assured that the Lord has kept me safe and protected. Some people that I have hiked with have left the trail already. Weather and injuries are the typical reasons for going home early. I believe when you decide to do something monumental like hiking the AT, you really need to have a why? What brings you out here, who are you doing it for or is there a greater purpose for your hike? I know why I am here. I truly believe that Jesus wants me here, to share his love and his life with others. I have planted some seeds, the good Lord will water them and we will watch them grow in the next few months. I am so grateful that he can use me, to be an ambassador, to those who find church in the mountains and along the trails.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

One thought on “Day 13: April 27, 2022. Rocky Bald to NOC Elevation Profile +1072/-4171 9.9 Miles; Total 136.7 Miles

  1. You look so happy and rested while you eat and enjoy a great meal and drink. So many new rewards you receive each day. You are definitely on the right trail. Thank you for the postcard – read your blog to mark and John today! All send best wishes and of course, we all send love and hugs. Keep on trekking 😊!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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