AT Thru-Hike Day 40

A tent site and spring (3,854 feet) mile 441.5 to a stealth campsite at mile 457.7 for a 16.1 mile day!

Started out with another slow day to see if Kelly would catch up to me, and eventually, she did! Good job Birdy, that’s her trail name.

So, almost all of the readers of this blog have no idea who Kelly “Birdy” is, so, I’m going to tell you. I met Kelly around January of 2020, I guess, in Charlotte, at Blue Blaze Brewery. Every Monday we meet at 6:30 pm for Trail Talk. It is exactly what it sounds like, a bunch of hikers/backpackers and want to be hiker/backpackers getting together to talk all things hiking/backpacking. In late February a group of us decided to hike the Bartram Trail, a 115 mile trail through Ga and NC. April, a few weeks after COVID-19 started we started out on the Bartram hike, Kelly was one of the hikers. Her and I had already mentioned we were hiking the AT in 2021, and as we hiked together on the Bartram, we realized we hiked about the same pace and got along pretty well, so, we decided to start the trail together!

Back to today, before I lose some of you!

I noticed today that spring is nearly fully upon us in the mountains at elevation. The grass has gotten longer and is such a beautiful bright green color. The flowers and the trees are almost all in bloom, there are a few species that have passed their blooms on for bright green leaves.

Another way to tell spring has spring, signs the birds have started hatching their young have been found!

Along the way, at mile 445.8 and sitting at 4,086 feet elevation, sits Nick Grindstaff’s grave site. The grave site where is plot of land was and his cabin sat just feet away from where is stone grave marker sits. The marker resembles a chimney made out of stone from Uncle Nick the Hermit’s cabin. He was given the nickname Hermit because he moved up to Iron mountain, alone, after returning from California to seek his opportunity in the Gold Rush. On his headstone are written these words, “lived alone, suffered alone, died alone.” He was said to have had a pet rattle snake that lived in the rafters of the cabin, along with he and Panter, his trusty companion dog. Look at Uncle Nick now, visited by thousands of through hikers a year and tens of thousands of hikers since the trail opened in the early 1930’s.

Pushing on, and stopping often for water, since the rain has been a little scarcer than in the past few weeks. This new process helped me to slow down some more and about the time I stopped for lunch at a highway parking lot, Birdy walked up behind me. The team was back together again!!! Go team!!

After taking in some calories, we put our shoes back on and hit the dusty trail. Not a half mile into the hike as a team again, we came to a beautiful field of tall grass blowing in the wind. I don’t know why, but there is just something about tall grasses blowing in the wind that just makes me happy inside!

The views from these, at times, active cow pastures are splendid! We sat with a local, who happened to be a trail maintainer, and he showed us around the Appalachian range off in the distance. One of the spots he showed us was White Top Mountain. Now, if you have ever rode the creeper trail, in Damascus, Va. you have already been to White Top Mountain.

Just left of center in this photo, off in the far distant range, one can see White Top Mountain. After walking over these pastures for about .8 miles we came to a final fence crossing and were then back into the woods again. We continued on until we found a great flowing spring, we filled up our liter water bottles and then filled up with another liter so we could cook our dinner!

Found a not so flat campsite and bedded down for the night after dinner and hanging our bear bags. In the morning, I realized that my night time guess was right, I did not set up flat at all!! I had slid all the way to the edge of my tent and was actually bending the polls I was so far to one side.

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