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Trip Report( kind of long)

Hello everyone,
Just got back from a couple of days out on the trail and thought some of you 
might enjoy hearing about it.
My hiking partner and I started off around 2am. Thurs. morning and drove 5 
hours to get to Cherokee Natl. Forrest. We left the car at a picnic area on 
Round Knob and started up an off road vehicle trail that leads to the AT. 
This trail is about 2 miles long and uphill the entire way, not a lot of fun 
when you have only had a couple of hours sleep. But we finnaly made it to 
the top and the AT. We started getting a bit worried as we approached the 
top of the ridge because it seemed we were climbing over more and more trees 
that had been blown down by Opal, and although we had heard good reports 
about this area of the trail, we had to wonder what its condition would be. 
Soon after reaching the trail our fears were relieved as we saw evidence of 
the hard work of the Carolina Mountain Club all around us, if anything most 
of the trail was clearer than it had been on my last trip to this area in 
July. We soon passed the Jerry's Cabin shelter and decided that we would 
hike to the Flint Mountin shelter at least. The weather was perfect, the sun 
would almost blind you as you walked out of the dark forest on to one of the 
balds. It was simply perfect. We reached Big Butt mountain (at least that's 
what they called it on the map we had) which was as far north on the trail 
as we had been, and had lunch as we enjoyed the view from the boulders on 
the summit. Shortly after we started back hiking we came across 3 other 
hikers who said they were out for a few days. They asked us where we were 
headed and said that we should make good time as it was downhill almost the 
entire way. They were right. It was down hill, in most areas a very steep 
down hill, which didn't seem so bad until we remembered that we had to hike 
backout the same way we came in, which would be straight up hill. Anyway we 
made it to the Flint Mountain shelter and decided to call it quits there. 
The next morning we awoke to warm tempratures and sunshine, but we knew it 
wouldn't last as we could see some extremely high clouds moving by so fast 
it was hard to follow them. When we finnaly got back to the summit of Big 
Butt (which seemed to take forever, 4 miles doesn't seem to bad unless it's 
up hill the entire way) the wind was gusting so hard as to make walking 
difficult. We continued down the other side of the mountain and passed a 
hunter along the way, 30 mins. or so later we passed what we figure was one 
of his dogs. We didn't notice for quite a while that the dog was following 
us, but he must have enjoyed our company because he went all the way to the 
shelter with us. We stopped at Jerry's Cabin to take a rest and about 2 
mins. later heavy rain joined the strong wind. It didn't take to long to 
decide that this was the place to spend the night, and not the other 
destination we had planned on. We read the register and built a fire in the 
fireplace and decided to make dinner. Macaroni and cheese was on the menu 
and we were both starved. In no time flat we had two boxes of mac and cheese 
cooked up and we started to eat, it soon became obvious that our eyes had 
been bigger than our stomaches. Stuffed, somewhat chilly, and in no mood to 
clean dishes our minds started working. This was our last night out and we 
wouldn't be needing the pans the next day, so why not let someone else clean 
them for us? A couple of whistles and "here boy"s later the dog we had 
somehow adopted came out from underneath the platform and started to eat. He 
ate like he hadn't seen food in weeks and it still tooj him almost 30 mins. 
to finish it off. I think he finnaly stoped eating more from jaw fatigue 
than being full. My partner had been short of money before the trip and was 
forced to take a poncho instead of any kind of rain suit, and while I was a 
bit concerned about this before we left I became quite happy about it while 
sitting in Jerry's Cabin. The wind was still howling and the rain was still 
falling and we were starting to get a bit chilly until we thought of 
covering half of the front of the shelter with his poncho. Soon we were just 
about as comfortable as we could get with the fire roaring and the wind kept 
at bay by a blaze orange poncho. We climbed into our sleeping bags and said 
goodnight hoping the temprature wouldn't drop too far durring the night, but 
our hopes didn't come true. We woke to sub-freezing tempratures and frost on 
the ground. We got packed and back on the trail in record time and were soon 
fairly warm from the activity, which was a good thing, I would of hated to 
have still been feeling cold when I saw those snowflakes start falling from 
the sky. Ok, it was only light flurries but I'm not use to snow in October, 
so this was special for me. We got back to the car and drove back  to our 
homes, showered and went to work. I'ts still hard for me believe that I was 
hiking the AT this morning and at my job this afternoon.
Anyway, I'm still pretty new at backpacking, but I have already decided to 
do a thru-hike in 97, I wanted to take this trip so as to get some 
experience at hiking in cold weather, which I have never done before. 
Mission accomplished :)

E. George Oeser
(still lookin for a trail name)