As my June 1 deadline looms nearer, I have spent the past few weeks immersed in the much needed revisions of our Best of the Appalachian Trail books. First written in 1994, they were updated in 2004. Let’s just say a lot has changed in the past 13 years! Interstates have been built and trails relocated for one thing. In addition, thanks to the much appreciated help of Vic Hasler with the Tennessee Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club, I’ve taken his advice and trashed one overnight hike and replaced it with another.
Honestly, I think the new hike is a much better addition. The only reason I can think we didn’t include it to begin with is because when we hiked that section of the Appalachian Trail, we were being chased by rain before being forced to shelter in the former barn–Overmountain Shelter–during an early April blizzard.
Simultaneously, while working on these revisions, I have also been transcribing my trail journals as 2018 will mark the 30th Anniversary of our through hike. Because life tends to work that way, the point I am at in transcribing is also the time we were caught in the snowstorm. Having quit my job as a staff writer for a daily newspaper to hike the A.T., I had fun (as we had hours to waste) describing the adventure in newspaper format. I can’t quite duplicate that here, but it went something like this (The Humps, by the way, are two balds on the Tennessee/North Carolina line that are more than a mile high in elevation.):
THE NOT-YET-OVER-THE-HUMPS NEWS
Yellow Creek Gap, N.C.
A Victoria Steele-Logue-Jones, Esq. Paper
April 7, 1988
Snowstorm traps 15: Boy Scouts, Through-hikers forced to shelter in barn.
Fifteen hikers were trapped at Yellow Creek Gap today when hit by the worst blizzard to strike the area in years. (She wrote the lead with less than 25 words, proving once again her innate sense of journalism.) The storm began early Wednesday with a sprinkle of rain and a wind that would make the willows weep. On the Hump mountains, Troop 357 struggled against the ripping gusts of air. It took several hours for the 13, including three leaders and ten youths, to make it to the Overmountain Shelter.
Through-hikers Frank and Victoria Logue arrived at the shelter slightly soaked just as the first downpour started shortly after 10:30 am. A little more than an hour later, the others began to arrive. Fortunately for the rain-soaked travelers, the barn had more than enough room to offer sanctuary to the entire group.
I won’t continue but suffice to say: because the barn had about an inch of space between its slats, it didn’t take long for snow to coat everyone’s sleeping bags. Also, the wind literally rocked the barn back and forth. It was a hellacious 48 hours. When we finally departed we had to trudge through more than two feet of snow, which, by the time we reached the valley at US 19E, had made the transition from snow to rain as the temperatures grew warmer.
But, having since seen and hiked that area in good weather, it’s truly beautiful and rich in both geologic history and the history of the people of the mountains. In the summer, the Cawtaba rhododendrons in the area are breathtaking.