3/13 – Day 16
Quick Blog: got out of Franklin, nice day on the trail. Met new hikers, got mixed up and on wrong trail for 20 something miles. Made it to NOC.

Made it to Silas Bald Shelter without a problem this being a short day of only 8 miles (didn’t hit the trail until noon). Cooked my dinner the crawled into my bag it’s just after 7:00 and already in the 20’s and supposed to get down to the teens…gonna be a cold night for being back on the trail! Weather is supposed to warm up some the rest of the week.

Several new hikers have stopped here as well and a couple I saw in Franklin (Wetdog and Sugar Gnome). Most of the new hikers are young and started later then me but they are tearing up the miles, doing 18 to 20 miles a day.

Weather and now some illness (the vertigo) has slowed me down and I wasn’t setting a killer pace as is, but I’m happy with my progress and thankful to be out here!

3/14 – Day 17
Today started off great, got off to a decent start in the morning after another night in the teens…it was a sunny day and an easy climb. I got my first trail magic, Fresh Ground had set up just off the trail and had coffee, hot cocoa, hot dogs, salad and fruit. I grabbed an apple, visited for a little then headed out.

The day was going fine, I stopped for a water break took my meds (for vertigo) and continued on. I made it up to the Wayah fire tower and the things went a little wrong. Not paying as much attention as I should I ended up on a trail with yellow reflective blazes (on the way to the tower there were yellow and white blazes together). Let me stop and explain a minute, the AT is marked, both north and south bound, with rectangular white paint called “blazes” about 2″ wide and 5″ long usually painted on trees. So anyway…

About 3 miles into the trial I started to think that something was wrong and I was off the trail and was thinking about turning around and heading back to the tower. I went a little further and came to the shelter I knew I was supposed to pass so figured I was on the right track…WRONG!

One simple rule, follow the White Blazes! Anyway, I walked until almost dark (about 17 miles) and then called the Nantahala Outdoor Center to try and get a fix on where I was. Turns out I was on a trail called Bartram and was far enough in that it made sense to finish it and ended up back in Franklin. I did see a nice waterfall and some wild turkeys…I had a turkey feather stuck in my hat for awhile but I guess it fell out.

So after hiking an extra 8 miles then if I was on course to the NOC, I hitched into Franklin and then got a cab to NOC. Not sure how I feel about it, basically I missed about 10 miles of the actual trail. I figure if I manage to finish this all the way to Maine I can always come back and slack pack it to stay a purist of the White Blazes.

Had a nice lunch and dinner then sat chilling by the river writing my journal. I tried to take a little nap before dinner but too much noise in and around the bunkhouse not to mention the smell of the guy airing out his socks on the bunk above mine! Dude, it’s a nice breezy day take them outside!! The vertigo is still getting better only really seems to bother me when I’m laying down.

I did meet up with Brad again and will stay the night here then head out in the morning, I should be at Fontana Dam and ready to start the smokies in 3 days.

Following pics: view from Wayah Bald fire tower, shot of tower, tent set up on Bartram Trail after 18 mile day, shots of nantahala outdoor center, friends, blogging in clogs by the river: