Natahala Outdoors Center is definitely on my list of must return. Eating at the resturant right on the trail overlooking the kayakers wanted me to go back with Robby my son to try our hands at white water. before I got chilled from the cool shade and iced tea I started to tear up thinking how much fun it would have been to see my sons paddling around, making fun of each other. Experiencing these ups fillls my heart with emotion and my eyes with liquid sunshine.
After a night of dreaming. Are they dreams when you wake up and your reality is worse knowing it was only a dream, that your father in law and son really aren’t out at the farm? Anyway after a night we climbed out of the NOC. And we climbed. There are 3 in our party now which makes things different for me. I’m sticking with Just Greg, not Funk. Oh, he is no longer Mingo, he introduces himself as “Just Greg” So that’s what we call him. It fits his unassuming nature. And Funk fits his. We met Chef and another kid at the gap who are loving life, skipping miles, and still having fun. We passed several older women along the trail leading upward for 19 miles until we camped on a grassy knoll. Not The grassy knoll. A older female postal worker was camping there. Just Greg startled her in her tent. He was without pack searching ahead for a site. “You don’t look like a thru hiker” she told him. Later she let us know she was packing mace “for the men, not the bears”.
I had a tough time keeping up as we climbed Jacob’s Ladder. I wondered how many people even know who Jacob was? That night I thought seriously about leaving Just Greg and Funk the next day but I read in Mathew how Jesus was calling his people to be a servant. that was a message to me to sick it out with them despite Funk’s plan to only hike 10 miles and stay at Fontana Dam. So that’s what we did. Today we got resupplied, again my pack feels heavy…h.e.a.v.y. Heavy. Tomorrow we enter the Smokies and into Tennessee,my 3rd state. We will cross back into NC in about 5 days. We are all a bit apprehensive about the Smokies but I got a bivvy sack to increase my sleeping bag’s warmth and dryness, got a ton of food, and know I’m with a guy who has my back.
We climb up for about 10 miles tomorrow before it “levels” off a bit.