AT - Day 77

After 7 miles, the trail reach-ed Vandeventer Shelter with its picturesque view of Watauga Lake. The trail wound through ups, downs, turns, and road crossings to the earthen Watauga Dam and the deep ravine off to the right. The trail bordered the heavily-used picnic area before crossing Route 321 and ascending by pleasant switchbacks to Pond Flats. Contrary to the profile map, the trail became rugged while descending Pond Mountain to Laurel Fork Gorge. The landscape assumed an untamed, prehistoric character. A steep climb out of the falls led to a railroad bed passing through dramatic, hilly terrain to Dennis Cove Rd. Arriving at Kincora Hiker’s Hostel after 5 p.m., I went out with proprietor Bob Peoples and section hiker Neutron for groceries. After consuming most of a large pizza, a good hunk of steak, and a pint of ice cream, I still felt hungry. Go figure.

Bob told me the story of one person’s transformation into a thru-hiker. Pointing to the white waste basket in the bathroom, Bob said, “See that 5-gallon pail there? A guy walked in here with all his possessions in that pail. A sheriff in Georgia had told him to follow the white lines on the trail north, and not to come back. I swapped him a pack for the pail, and he went all the way.”