Duckett House, Hot Spings, NC to Walnut Mountain Shelter
Somebody shoot that rooster! He apparently doesn’t know that he is supposed to refrain from cock-a-doodle-doing until sunrise. I walked into town for breakfast at the Smokey Mountain Diner and then over to the library to send e-mails. Since I wasn’t going to make it all the way back to Georgia, I had to try and find a friend who could fetch me eleven days from now at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Wesser, NC. I stopped to pick-up a backcountry camping permit for Smoky Mountain National Park at the Hot Springs ranger station, but the ranger station was closed. That put me in a bad mood because it meant I would have to walk three miles out of my way to get a permit when I got to Davenport Gap.
Today was mostly up, up, and up. At least the trail was dry and firm. It leveled off for a while, but didn’t quite make it up to the ridge top for a view. I rounded a bend late afternoon and was greeted by a pleasant breeze, so I plopped down next to the trail for a lunch break. I didn’t feel like pulling out my pot and stove, so I ate Vegetarian Ramen Noodles without cooking. Crunchy Ramen Noodles are pretty tasty. I also ate a side of Ratatouille and peach cobbler without rehydrating or cooking. On the way to Walnut Mountain Shelter there were signs posted about a bear that had been aggressively stealing food, so I thought it best to refrain from cooking and creating food odors.
At Garenflo Gap, someone had left a large Rubbermaid container filled with water bottles and plastic bags containing snack foods. I assumed that someone had attempted to resupply a group. They had secured the lid with a bungee cord. A bungee cord probably looks like the handle of a picnic basket to a bear. Needless to say, the area was littered with empty bottles, bags, and wrappers. A few hundred yards down the trail, I saw a pile of bear scat in the middle of the trail with a Snicker Bar wrapper in it.
It was almost dark when I arrived at Walnut Mountain Shelter. The last mile was a grueling ascent and I was tired after hiking thirteen miles on a hot, humid day. I shared the shelter with Mike and Dave, a couple of nice section hikers from Michigan and Florida. They were already cooking, so I abandoned my plan not to cook. Good thing my dinner only required a cup and a half of water because there was no water at this shelter. After Hawaiian Shrimp and Rice with a side of broccoli, I hung my food bag from the bear cables and called it a night. I slept well despite the mice scampering everywhere during the night.