Thanks to my daughter Peggy and her husband
If anyone needs to contact me use the following e-mail
9/13/04, my son Bob called and said that he had
electricity and I didn't, that I could stay with him until I did. I plan to
drive to Cherokee, NC today and hopefully stay at the Best Western Motel. Tomorrow morning, I plan to hike the Alum Cave
Bluff Trail to the lodge and back down before heading back to
Hike 1287 9/6/04 The timing of this hike was brought on by the potential arrival of Hurricane Frances at my home in Southeastern Florida, My son Bob advised me to get out of Harms way and head to my daughter Peggy and Marks Haythorn's place in Chapel Hill, NC. He advised me that the escape routes would soon become a parking lot if I waited too long to leave. I spent my 79th birthday, September 1, 2004, putting up storm shutters, mowing grass and taking showers. My son Bill and his wife Sally came up to visit and to take me to the Golden Corral for birthday dinner. Bob, Lisa and the boys were also to go and join in the celebration but Bob thought that their time could be better spent by Bill and I helping him shutter the 24 windows on his home. So we did. We did stop by the local Subway shop for salads and sandwiches. As far as the showers, I took my first shower after breakfast. I took my second shower after finishing shuttering Pat's house and mowing the lawn. I took my third shower after Bill and I finished helping Bob shutter his house. I am sure that is a record number of showers on my birthday. Back when I was a youngster, I never took a shower. I just took a sponge bath or washed off in the local swimming hole.
I left Jensen Beach, Florida, on Thursday, September 2, 2004 and headed north. Traffic on I 95 north of Ft. Pierce was flowing freely but that was to change near Palm Bay. It was truly a stop and go trip from there into Georgia. It took me ten hours to reach Waterboro, SC where it would have taken me less than seven hours. I stopped at the Ramada Inn, in Walterboro and spent the night. A very few rooms remained unfilled when I checked in.
I arrived at my daughter's home at about noon and let myself in and relaxed. Peggy returned shortly and we settled in for an extended visit. Hurricane Frances took it's time about coming ashore. Its forward progress had slowed to about 5 MPH but thank God the wind speed had decreased from 140 MPH to 105 MPH. The center of the 70 mile wide eye hit Sewells Pointe, FL, which adjoins Jensen Beach, late evening on Sunday the fifth. Pat was in Colorado. Bob Lisa, Austin and Charlie were in a shelter at the Martin County Jail. Bill, Sally, and pets Chris, Red dog, Quint and Kharma were buttoned up in West Palm Beach.
I wanted to get in a hike while I was here and checking the weather forecast, it appeared that Labor Day was the only likely rain free day until later in the week. With the knowledge that everyone was safe, I headed out about noon time on Sunday for Cherokee. Traffic was light and I arrived in the early evening at Tillroe and Jo Ann Smith's camper. They insisted that I stay with them and Tillroe would show me the way up the Alum Cave Bluff Trail the next morning. Jo Ann put up left over food that would grace a king's table. For dessert there was coconut cake, coconut pie, strawberries and ice cream. YUM YUM. I also got to sleep in their new bedroom with cable TV and all the comforts of home.
I woke up about 4:00 a.m. and turned on the Tennessee/UNLV game and watched that as I was doing my morning chores. (Tennessee Won. Way to Go Vols!) I then turned on the coffee and awoke Tillroe. We had breakfast and headed for the trailhead. It was a nice 53 degrees on Tillroe's porch as we departed. We arrived at the Alum Cave Bluff Trailhead at about 6:25 a.m. and prepared to leave. We left at 6:30 and a nice 53 degree temperature. We paused at the trailhead to photograph Tillroe at the sigh post. It was still quite dark when we left but we were able to hike along without tripping. Our eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness and at the same time the environs were becoming brighter with the moon light and the slowly rising sun. We managed to hike without tripping
After hiking about a half mile, Tillroe heard a noise and ask me what I thought that it was. I suggested that perhaps it was an owl but very soon Ron Valentine's silhouette appeared from the darkness. We chatted a while and I took Ron and Tillroe's picture before moving on up the trail.
As we neared Inspiration
Point, The sun was lighting the clouds up
We stopped at Gracie's Pulpit for a snack and a picture of Cliff Top and Paul's Face. The short down hill from Gracie's pulpit to the saddle is always a welcome respite on the way up to the lodge but read drudgery upon the return trip. We met Neal Webb and his son Tucker from La Verge, TN, before reaching the new log steps. When Neal said that they were from Nashville, TN, I asked him if he were working in the religious or medical field. I know that Nashville is famous for country music but those folks, except for Helen Cornelius, don't seem to hike this mountain. He responded that He was a financial administrator in the religious field. I told Tucker that I could remember his name from the Tucker automobile that was designed but never went into production shortly after WWII. His dad said that he had three models of the Tucker. Tillroe used Neal's fine Nikon digital SLR camera to take our picture. Neal e-mailed me a copy.
We met four backpackers from the Cincinnati,
We were overtaken and passed
by a couple from Indianapolis,
I paused at Grassy Slide to photograph the mountains toward Clingmans Dome,
some Grass of Parnassus and closed gentian
flowers. I even took a picture of Tillroe
at Grassy Slide and a picture of Tillroe
and Ron Valentine. Ron was on his way back down from the lodge. We met J. L.
and Ayse Grillot from
Knoxville, TN, near West Point View and the rest of the group from
I took a picture of Tillroe on Betty Jane Barnett's Stairway to Heaven. I also took a couple of more scenes of the mountains toward Clingmans Dome and Sugarland. When I reached the top of the Stairways to Heaven, I met Scott and Stephanie Hatley family from Memphis, TN. They spent the night at the lodge to celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary with her cousin and her husband. I also asked another couple with their two young sons to pose for the picture. Before reaching the site of the Old Horse Gate, I rook a couple of pictures of Paul's face and Margaret's Place.
The lodge was 60 degrees, windy and partly cloudy. After filling my CamelBak with fresh water, we went inside the office and signed the register before returning to the rocking chairs on the front porch. While we were eating our lunches, we watched the lower layer of clouds zipping past High Top. A thin upper layer appeared to be completely motionless in a dark blue sky. The breeze made the porch seem cool. Lodge member Michael came by and I asked him for former lodge member Henry Neel's address in Iraq. He said that Henry was back in Mississippi with his guard unit that has been mobilized and is in training prior to being deployed. I wanted Henry's address so I could post it and ask hikers that knew him to write to him. After finishing our lunches, we headed back down the trail at
I took a picture of some colorful Witch Hobble leaves and some fungi on the stump of a Fraser Fir, before reaching the site of the Old Horse Gate. I paused long enough to photograph Paul's face, Margaret's Place and the views in the direction of Newfound Gap. We met a very sweating Nolan Hadley at Margaret's place. He introduced himself and said that I had taken a picture of his folks. He said that he couldn't hike and spend the night with his folks, which I had met earlier, because he had to work. It kind of puzzled me because his parents were from Memphis and that was too far for him to drive this morning. He later overtook and passed us at Arch Rock and he cleared up the mystery.
I took another picture of Tillroe descending Betty Jane Barnett's Stairway to Heaven and when we reached Grassy Slide, I took more pictures of the Grass of Parnassus and closed gentian as well and scenic views toward Clingmans and Gracie's Pulpit. We met three well dressed young ladies with head scarves and each one eating a Granny Smith apple. I wondered at the time who would hike this mountain dressed in such finery but I did not ask. Their apples surely looked good.
We met Dave Scanlon from Knoxville, TN below Trout Branch. He looked good and fit but still told lies. He said the "I was looking good." I paused at Trout Branch to gather a few blackberries. They were delicious and they were surely the last of the blackberry crop for this year. Tillroe is a much faster hiker than I am so he hikes ahead and rests a lot. When I reached the top of the upper steps, He was leaning his head against the handrail at the bottom of the steps. I tried to get his picture in that position but just as I was ready to snap the picture, he looked up.
Below the steps, we met two more finely dressed young ladies with head scarves but they were not eating green apples. I chatted with them for a while and found out that they are with some Baptist Church group. One young lady was from Cincinnati, OH and the other was from Indiana. They were beautiful young ladies. I was chatting with a guy with a Tee Shirt stating that he was an Appalachian Trail maintenance volunteer. I told him that most Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers were complaining about the terrible damage that horses do to the trail through the park but they cannot lead their dogs through. As we were chatting, I saw Michael chasing a fine looking lady; both lodge crew members, down the trail. The lady would not stop for me to take a picture but Michael did. The A. T. trail maintainer was in the background of the picture.
I took another picture of fungi before hiking up on a man resting with three ladies. I asked him how he rated such a good looking harem! I photographed more fungi. Perhaps Dr. Mike at Miami University in Oxford, OH will identify them for me!
As we were climbing the trail from the saddle to Gracie's Pulpit, I saw a bunch Albino rhododendron leaves. I wondered what caused this anomaly. I took another shot of Cliff Top before stopping for a snack at Gracie's Pulpit. When we were preparing to leave, Ed Munger from Sevierville hiked up. We chatted for a while before continuing our descent past Big Duck Hawk Ridge and Little Duck Hawk Ridge. I enjoyed the view of the Alum Cave Bluff but it was surprisingly light on hikers for a Labor Day. We met the Johnson's as we were leaving. He had e-mailed me a while back about a cross that was planted on Cliff Top as a "Tribute to Dad." I gave him the e-mail address of a supervisor in the park and he reported it to him. A park employee removed the cross. He said that he and his wife were married at Myrtle Point in 1990. Now that is a romantic setting for a wedding and shows real love for the mountains.
I took another picture of the Eye of the Needle as we passed. We chatted with a group named Good, Mike I think, from Huntsville, AL at Inspiration Point. I took two pictures of fungi before reaching the first foot log. Nolan Hadley overtook us at Arch Rock and answered my puzzlement about how he could be working and missed the overnight stay with his family. Nolan said that had attended a local Johnson's Bible College and had an Associate's Degree from there and was now attending the University of Tennessee, studying theater. Mystery solved.
We completed the hike without any rain. The 6 hours and 55 minute roundtrip was the fastest trip that I have made in a while. I took Tillroe home, had another piece of pie and a couple of glasses of milk before heading back to Chapel Hill. The Labor Day traffic all the way to Asheville was as bad as the northward bound hurricane Frances traffic fleeing from Florida. Tillroe Smith is truly a great guy. If you don't know him, you should do your best to meet him.
News from my son Bob reports some damage to the house and yard but nothing really serious. A neighbor's roof was blown off. As of 9.8.04 there was still no power and almost no gasoline or food stores open.