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Kushmans' update from Erwin

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 22 Apr 96 08:55:52 EDT
From: Richard Kushman
Subject: erwin

Day 42  4/12/96  Friday    no miles
Bronco, Puddin, Artemis, Stomper have all come into town. Blister Sister , who is currently off the trail, greeted North Going Zak with shrimp, fresh strawberries, and  Guiness Beer. This certainly sounds like a trail romance!
Hot Springs is warm and sunny and a wonderful place for any hiker. We spent the afternoon sharing wine and conversation with Godfather and Turtle. Dinner again at the diner while trying to get psyched for hiking the trail. Tomorrow we leave. 

Day 43  4/13/96  Saturday    11 miles
One last plate of pancakes at the diner, a stop at the Post Office, and a long freight train through town across the trail contributed to our late (11:00 a.m.) departure. The sky was overcast with scattered showers predicted. The climb out seemed steep after two days off but the trail was dry - no more mud. Rhododendren bushes provided a dry  haven during a short shower but rain held off for most of the day. 
Just as we reached Spring Mountain Shelter the flood gates opened. Everyone huddled inside waiting for a lull in the storm. March Hare with his dog Fool, Dre, Turbo Ted, Slider, and Scarecrow had claimed their bunks. We along with Godfather and Turtle, Chameleon and October Dawn, and Bronco and Puddin all tented on the ridge above. The temperature provided our newest experience, it wasn't freezing cold and tomorrow was going to be warmer. Spring time camping, had possibly arrived.  Scattered showers continued through the night.

Day 44  4/14/96  Sunday    15.3  miles
Nexmo thought she bit off more than she could chew but she thoughed out a long day, in fact our longest so far. After a foggy morning bright sun and temperatures in the seventies made for an enjoyable day. The first few miles to Allen Gap were a pleasure until we found March Hare and his dog Fool at the roadside quitting the trail. A slight cold but mostly a twisted ankle had convinced him to take a rest.  
The Climb up Camp Creek Bald at mid day was hot, long , and had us guzzling water. Then the rocky terrain around Blackstack Cliffs kept us going slow. Finally at 7:30 p.m. we arrived at Jerry Cabin Shelter. Everyone had decided to put on the miles, so the shelter was full with last nights crew as well as the Irish hiker Guinness. Chameleon and October Dawn were the only ones missing. Our tent was up just before dark and a fireside dinner finished the day. God bless warmer weather.

Day 45  4/15/96  Monday    5.9  miles
After making our morning calls from the Jerry Mountain Shelter phone we turned off the light  and went for a walk in the park. The trail was easy and pleasant. We met Sam Waddle and two other gentlemen on their way to cut down a threatening tree near the shelter. Sam has been taking care of this shelter for twenty three years and his hard work and sense of humor have made it a favorite stop. Flint Mountain Shelter was really too close but the next shelter was another 8.5 miles. The wind was howling and the forecast called for thunder showers and heavy rain. Puddin and Bronco were at the shelter deciding whether to go on or spend the night. Godfather and Turtle arrived and after a long discussion regarding the weather and wet tents we all chose to stay. Chameleon and October Dawn arrived as did Slider. To justify such a short day we needed a good storm and in fact we got it - heavy rain, strong winds, sleet, and yes, more snow. 
Godfather and Bronco had rigged tarps over the shelter entrance and this helped keep us all dry considering the wind. Unfortunately the temperature was dropping, and we were back to Winter camping.
Trail magic arrived in the form of Spud Boy. He poked his head through the tarps and offered us delicious bread and fruit. He had been out hiking for for a day looking for Zamboni and was camped near the shelter.
Chameleon and October Dawn brought a homey end to the night with fresh popcorn, but I can't remember which movie we watched.

Day 46  4/16/96  Tuesday    12.9  miles
We woke to a freezing cold day with snow falling. Slider decided to leave with Spud Boy and take a early break in Erwin. He was having trouble holding down food and perhaps a doctors visit was in order.
Only about an inch collected but it remained cold and windy so leisurely breaks were again difficult. We quickly arrived at Devil Fork Gap where again Spud Boy had dispensed his magic. Near the road on a set of steps he had left bags of nuts and candy bars. We along with Bronco, Puddin, Godfather and Turtle shared the booty.
We began the long climb up Frozen Knob. True to its name we were treated to wind blown ice dropping from the covered trees. Our own localized ice storm. We lunched at Hogback Ridge Shelter and discussed campsites with Godfather and Turtle. The trail guide listed a meadow two miles after Sam's Gap which became our goal.
We stopped at a small stream for water and found the meadow sunny and protected from the heavy winds. The view was pleasant and although still cold the night was peaceful 

Day 47  4/17/96  Wednesday    11.6  miles
Big Bald Mountain constituted our long morning uphill climb. The continuing cold, along with plenty of wind chased us off the summit after ten minutes of picture taking. After lunch at Bald Mountain Shelter with Godfather and Turtle, and Chameleon and October Dawn the remaining hike to Spivey Gap had only two annoying ups. There was a pleasant camp sight just before the gap but Turtle and Nexmo decided we would walk another half mile off the trail to a USFS picnic area that promised luxuries such as a privy, fresh water piped spring, and picnic tables. We enjoyed a sit down dinner as the night turned calm and clear skies promised a sunny next day.

Day 48  4/18/96  Thursday    11.7  miles
Erwin Tennessee has a motel. Nexmo, Download, Godfather, and Turtle all agreed after six days in the mountains that visiting that motel, eating real food, and taking a shower was, well - ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.
We began early, before 8:00 a.m., the sooner we got there the better. The trail was not bad, no serious ups, beautiful warm weather, and eventually glimpses of Erwin in the distance. The temperature off the mountain in Erwin was 808, needless to say, quite pleasant.
The item foremost in my mind as we entered Nolichucky Campground was a cold can of soda. This shortly  became the item foremost in my hand as we began looking for a shuttle into town. Bronco, Puddin, Chameleon, and October Dawn were staying at the Nolichucky Hostel and were considering a swim in the cold river. Godfather and Turtle along with us were fortunate that Tom Hensley had the time and truck for hiker errands. Post Office, ATM, pharmacy, Taco Bell and the Erwin Motel. Thanks Tom.
We had finished this section with absolutely no food remaining. Without the magic of Spud Boy  and Granola bars from Slider we might have been very cranky.

*** NOTE ***  Jenny's Olde Towne Inn is apparently only renting to long term guests. The hostel, campground, or the Erwin Motel are a hikers best bet.

Next Update - Down The Trail
"Download" & "Nexmo"