Sorry about the long delay folks. I apologize for going almost two weeks without an update. On the plus side it means I have a lot to talk about if I can remember everything. When last we left out brave hero, I believe I was spending a partial day in Franklin. Most people ended up spending the night there, but for some reason I was really feeling like moving on that night and if there is one thing I have picked up thus far, it is that if you feel like walking you really ought to walk. Otherwise you might feel like you are too behind schedule to stop when you want too. Anyway, I hit the trail around 4:30 feeling excited, not least because I had just found out my cousin and his wife had a baby! (congrats Burg and Ashley!) Right after I stepped back from the highway I came to a really beautiful little creek crossing. There was a little waterfall with a footbridge crossing over it. It was the kind of thing I had really looked forward to seeing on the trail but not exactly where I had expected to find it. This is a phenomenon that I have noted a couple of times while being out here, sometimes there are some really beautiful bits of nature just moments from major aspects of "civilization". I wonder how many people in those areas even know these places exist? I was headed for the Siler Bald shelter that night which was only a few miles up the trail and on the way there it suddenly occurred to me that there probably wouldn't be anyone there because it is so close to town. This wouldn't have been the end of the world but I think it would have been at least mildly unsettling seeing as how it would have been my first night out without company. However, Scooby was at the shelter when I arrived but as it turned out we camped out up on the bald with Beat Box (formerly Airic) and The Unknown Couple as I have taken to calling them (I have never really been able to get their names and they kind of keep to themselves). The view from Siler's was exceptional; one of the most complete and multi-directional that I have had the fortune to come across. The next day I was intending to head for Cold Spring Shelter with Beat Box, a shelter I am intimately familiar with as the point where all Camp Grier AT groups eat lunch on their first day on the trail. It was about 12 miles from Siler's Bald. As it turned out however, I was there by 2:30 so I took an hour siesta to air out my gear and then pushed on the remaining 6 miles or so to Wesser Bald Shelter. It was a city. When I arrived there were probably 8 tents set up around the site and there was only one spot left in the shelter which I happily took off the market. That night I met Bluebell, Tree, Kiwi, Flint, and Jubilee. There were many others but those in the tents didn't really come down to the shelters. The mice were active that night, but I didn't sleep too badly in spite of that and some serious snoring from nearby. The next day dawned rather gray and threatening, and sure enough we got some rain on the few miles down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. I spent a relaxing day at the NOC, eating, wathcing the river, and doing laundry but it wasn't particularly interesting so I'll move on from there. From NOC I was planning on pushing straight through the Smokies without pausing in civilization. Its funny how the trail can change ones plans. About two miles short of my intended destination for that day Scooby (who I was walking with) and I came across a fairly elaborate Trail Magic at Stecoah Gap run by Bare Bear and Jellybean. It was very nice and they had Dr. Thunder which was quite tasty but I was still waffling on whether to push on or camp for the night with the dozen or so other hikers who had been snared. Then they brought out the Margeritas and I made up my mind. It was fun hanging out with everyone that night. It is, however, fortunate that I already had a trail name upon my arrival or I think I would have come away with a somewhat less flattering one. Upon unloading my pack I discovered that a bird had crapped upon one of my flip-flops while I was walking. My announcement to this effect was greeted with much laughter and the suggestion from Jellybean that I should now go by the handle S***flop. No thank you Jellybean, I believe I will stick with The Breadless Horseman. Anyway, I realize this is becoming a rather long winded post so I am going to split the rest of my unposted info into another post a little later on this evening. So now I will leave you with a couple of pictures of the view from Siler's Bald and myself with M&M enjoying some Margeritas. Enjoy.
-The Breadless Horseman