Carvers Gap and Who Lost Shemeah?

Carvers Gap and Who Lost Shemeah?

It was about time for a good adventure and the weekend didn’t fail us. Leslie, Still Waters, April and myself rolled on down the highway at high noon on Friday, heading toward the big town of Erwin, Tennessee. The plan was to spend the night and get up early to meet at the trailhead Saturday. I have to say the drive was absolutely a blast. We all talked nearly non-stop and laughed equally as much. At some point the words “fried fish” came out of someone’s mouth and a quest to find a littleElsies...Eternal lunch.... café with fried anything began. It ended at Elsie’s Steak and Seafood,home of “All You Can Eat Fried Catfish” and the local Optimist club. Obviously we all had been on some kind of fried food fast because everything that landed on the table had seen Crisco and was not long for this world. Stuffed and satisfied, we over tipped Elsie and headed toward the great town of Erwin and the Holiday Inn Express.
A friendly check-in, settling into our clean room, a quick trip to the local Wal-Mart, (Always interesting,)dinner at Clarence’s Drive In and we turned in early. There was little movement and no snoring as we all dreamed of the trail ahead.
After a fascinating breakfast at the Holiday Inn, (Who knew there was an automatic conveyer belt pancake maker?!!!) we packed up at sunrise and headed toward the Hostel to meet our group.

The Mountain Harbor Hostel /Bed and Breakfast was delightful!IMG_2857IMG_2886

For $15.00 a night, hikers can stay in a clean bed, have access to a shower, stocked frig and small kitchen. There was a small General Store that operates on the honor system and for $9.00 a full breakfast at the main house can be had. A member new to our group had stayed the night and greeted us with enthusiasm. Patty aka Dream Believer would prove to be a tireless hiker and cheerleader sharing her wisdom and love of nature.
Soon we were joined by Hemlock, Cindy, and Sweet Pea and were IMG_2891shuttled up a bumpy, curvy route to the trailhead atCarvers Gap.The hike began on a beautiful, blue sky, 80 degree treasure of a day, and slipping through the gate we began our hike. Almost immediately we were embraced by a Balsam Fir forest that can only grow at 5000 feet.( I looked around for Ewoks, but saw none…..) Delighted, we wandered along and soon began our ascent up Round Bald, picking our way past a mile long bucket brigade of young people restoring the trail with rocks. (One of the girls commented as we went by, that we were the pretty hikers!) highres_50264351
The climb continued up, as we topped Round Bald passing masses of Rhododendron bushes with the wind whipping around us. We stop periodically to spin 365 degrees and burst into the Sound of Music ,which will be our theme song for most of the trip! On we go over and up Jane Bald surrounded by magnificent mountains and valleys, numerous plants and flowers and goats grazing beside the trail, guarded by a ferocious “goat”dog.
Jane Bald proves to be the perfect lunch spot to languish in the warm sun and chat with other hikers as they pass through this intersection. Nourished, hydrated and rested we head down the AT back into the forest. Our hard work rewarded by an amazing sea of wildflowers blooming all around us. Much of the trail barely wide enough for our feet, it is like we are walking through a carpet of colors. The surprising and pleasing display included Yarrow, Daisy’s, Bee Balm, Echinacea, Dodder, Turtlehead, Phlox, Gentian, yellow and purple touch me nots, Beech Drop, Queen Anne Lace and Angelica. I can hear Joan swooning in the distance……

We pass the Stan Murray shelter, do a quick Keen Hiking boot commercial….IMG_2977and follow the rolling trail down to the Overmountain Shelter, a two story red barn structure housing several college students. This proves to be a good place to regroup and watch the clouds rolling over the valley like waves in the ocean…We made the decision not to camp here, but to press on UP and over Little Hump Bald.
and this……is where we lost Shemeah……….
Almost everyone needed to replenish their water and this was IMG_2933the last source before we would camp. Still Waters and Hemlock had filled up while the rest of us were airing out our toes at the barn. Hemlock waited with April while the water bearers loaded up and Still Waters decided to head on to scout out a site.

The mighty climb up Little Hump began…..Hemlock, with her long legs and natural gait soon became a distant pinhead as I followed, Fabs and Leslie not far behind and April and Patty bringing up the rear. To an overhead observer, I think we might have looked like one of those slinky caterpillar toys, starting and stopping, getting closer together and stretching back out, as we made our way, our breathing heavy and labored up, up and more up.

The views are breathtaking as we go, making the pain worthwhile, majestic mountains with tufts of white clouds rising out of them, waving grasses along the trail, rocky outcrops and the sun breaking the clouds providing us with “God Rays” and more layers of blue mountain ridges.
Catching up with a waiting Joan, Leslie, Fabs and myself reach the top and go up and over trying to outrun a rain cloud with April and Patty being pursued by a rolling fog beneath us. Confident that Shemeah is ahead of us, we laugh that she has already started a fire….. Just as we hit the shelter of the scrubby trees, it starts to rain and we quickly cover out packs and put on our jackets, all the while looking along the narrow grown up trail for a place to hang four hammocks and place three tents.

Not far into the woods, I manage to once again step in a yellow jackets home and feel stinging on the back of my leg. Tearing down the trail with Leslie right on my heels feels all too familiar! Sprays and cream is applied and Joan and Fabs meet up with us after waiting for the nest to die down and suddenly we spy the perfect campsite!!! The heavens openmusic plays and we are practically delirious with joy……until we realize…..there is no Shemeah……….

Warbonnet VillageWe are joined by April and Patty and begin the work of setting up camp before darkness falls, all the while worrying about our hiking partner. A cell call is placed with a single bar and a message is left. There is discussion about sending Hemlock out to look for her but it is decided that we will all stay put, that Still Waters is a competent hiker and will be fine. We speculate that she might be eating Spam with the Boy Scouts when suddenly we hear her entering camp with a shout!
IMG_2869She receives a heroes welcome and we are all relieved that our group is once again complete. Apparently, she hiked an additional 4 miles, while exploring a new trail and making a wrong turn headed back toward the Stan Murray shelter . She did indeed meet up with the Boy Scouts, but they did not have Spam. ….
Relieved, our dinners are prepared, bear bags hung, business is done and we all retire early, exhausted from the days adventures. Thankfully, I sink into my hammock, cocooned by my borrowed Yeti, (thank you KP) andfaithful Ethel, slipping off to sleep to the night chorus of critters and campmates….
to be cont.

Stone Mountain

From the North Carolina Trail Dames….

The views were stunning. We spent a while just sitting, chatting, contemplating, relaxing, and enjoying the view. After 30 minutes, we decided to push on and continue down the relatively flat trail to another outstanding view. After another quick break, we continued on, going down hill to hike along a stream that soon became a huge waterfall. When we got to the bottom of the falls, we took a snack an water break and indulged our feet by taking a dip in the cool refreshing water. It was perfect. We continued on to finish up with an amazing view of the mountain we had just climbed. By this point we were all hot and sweaty and ready for our reward. ICE CREAM!!! We all headed for the local general store for some home made ice cream and cold drinks. This was an awesome ending to a beautiful, warm day.

Posted at 08:12 PM in Appalachian

Lansford Canal with the NC Dames

Lansford Canal with NC Trail Dames

Eight Trail Dames made it out Landsford Canal State Park in South Carolina!

Six of us met up to carpool (Beth, Kelly, Kimber, Nina, Deirdre, and me), while two
(Chris and Mara) met us at the park. We drove down to Landsford Canal State Park
to catch a glimpse of the infamous spider lilies that only seem to bloom this
time of year. It was a quick 30 minute drive and a $2 entrance fee each, but we
all agreed, it was worth the price of admission.

As we climb out of our cars, we exchange hellos and catch up with each other. I
Chris’ new day hiking pack and her weight loss. I am so proud of her.
She looks great and her new pack makes her legit day hiker! haha! Seriously, her
pack was so cute. Kelly and I helped her fill it with water, showed her how it
worked, and explained where the hose goes.

We saw a lot of kayakers getting ready to enjoy the spider lilies up close and
personal. You see, these little hardy flowers only grow on rocky shoals of a river and the Catawba River is one of the largest growing sites. The flowers
are literally growing on boulders in the middle of
the river!

After gawking at the kayakers, we found a nice park ranger that was willing to take
our photos in exchange for our beautiful smiles. So we took our “beginning of
the hike” picture, then we took a silly Dame photo before finally hopping on the
trail. Chatting away, it amazes me how easily we all fall into conversations
with one another. We have an awesome group of ladies and I got a chance to talk
to each and every one of them.

The trail itself was a nice and easy, well maintained path that was very well
marked. We started along the river then turn right into the forest and walked
along the canal path. We learned that the early settlers made these man made
canals through the forest to keep themselves out of sight and safe. We stopped
to read all the historical signs and after a mile we reached the viewing
platform for the spider lilies.

After taking lots of photos, and a water break, we continued on a nice easy trail for another 1/2 mile up to the stone bridge and official historical Indian
trade post sight. I snapped a couple of photos of the Dames on the bridge, then we hiked back to the lily platform one last time.

It started to sprinkle so I mentioned that maybe Kelly’s trail name should be Rainmaker. Cause
it seems that each time I’ve hiked with her, it seems to rain. haha! We finally get back to the cars and that’s when Nina surprises us. She pulls out a tupperware full of fresh strawberries to share! They tasted so yummy after our
hike. Thank you Nina! That was so thoughtful. We say goodbye to Chris and Mara
and then the rest of us hop back into my car and head back home. As soon as we
pull out of the state park, it starts to rain and we all look at Kelly and
laugh. haha! At least it didn’t rain on our hike! This was a great hike with a
great group. Looking forward to our next adventure Trail Dames.

Ann Springs Hike

Anne Springs Hike

Blog post from the North Carolina Dames!!
Several of us carpooled from Charlotte and drove the 30
mintues to Anne Springs Greenway, in Fort Mill SC, where we met up with Joy and
Nina. After paying our $3 entrance fee, we parked and got ready for our hike. It
was a beautiful day and we had 11 Dames enjoying the outdoors. It was Beth,
Karla, Kimber, Sarah, Joy, Dierdre, Nina, Barbara, Linda, Wendy, and me.

At first we had some trouble locating the
Timberline trail, but once we found it, we were good. We hiked up the Timberline
trail to the top, where we passed by a Peach Farm. Lots and lots of trees
dripping with almost ripe peaches. Sarah was curious about the peach tree, so
Dierdre gave her permission to have one and she did! haha! She plucked one right
off the tree. Oops…. 😉

We continued on, looking for the Blue Star trail. We
were supposed to hop on the Blue Star trail, but some how we passed it. Must of
been all the chatting we were doing. haha! We ended up on the Dogwood trail and
decided to hike down it to the Muscadine trail. After hiking by a couple of
ladies out their horses, we find the Muscadine trail just fine. But some how we
managed to make a big loop and end up exactly where we started! I called that
section of trail the twighlight section, because it was so confusing! Deciding
not to hike the Muscadine trail loop again, we road walked it on a gravel road
down to the lake. We met a nice man renting out kayaks for $5 an hour and then
found the Haigler lake trail. We finished up the hike all safe and sound and
then made our way to the Peach Stand for some rewarding, well deserved, yummy,
cold ice cream!

I learned that Joy lived in China for a long time while
teaching and has hiked all over the Great Wall. Sarah, literally, did a 180 of
her life. She sold her house, moved to a different town, started a new career,
and began living a life SHE wants. Lots of yoga and hiking! Wow, I was so
impressed with her bravery. I learned that even though Kimber was in the Navy,
she can’t swim! haha! Too funny, we all had a nice laugh. (Sorry Kimber!! We
still love you! haha!) Linda is about to go to Alaska to visit her daughter for
vacation. I am so excited for her, I hope she has a wonderful time. Diedra had a
wonderful time in Charleston, but I the ghost tour wasn’t that great. I learned
that camping with Wendy will be an experience! haha! She brings everything but
the kitchen sink with her. I wonder how long it takes her to set up? I wonder
what she’s gonna think of my set up? Everything I have for camping fits in my
backpack. Hee Hee! Barbara had a brace on her left knee and told us she had
surgery for a torn meniscus a while back. She seemed to be doing great on the
hike and I hope me asking if her knee was ok didn’t bother her. Nina’s birthday
will be next Wednesday. Happy Birthday NINA!! Even though Beth is stealthy
quiet, she has an eye for the trail. How about she knew we missed the Blue Star
intersecting trail but kept quiet and let us continue on our chatty merry way.
haha! I think I see a trail name in here somewhere for her, maybe Stealthy.
Hmmm…. Speaking of trail names, Karla was dubbed this hike with her trail
name. Let me paint the picture; It’s about 90 degrees out, the sun is shining
bright, and Karla busts out an umbrella in the middle of our

hike because she doesn’t want to get sun on her.
We all laughed and that’s when it came out. I called her Mary Poppins. So Karla
is now AKA “Mary Poppins”. HAHA!!

Crowders Mountain w/the North Carolina Dames

This past Saturday, 5 of us headed up to our local mountain for a nice hike 3 mile hike. This was a first hike for some of the Dames and the second hike that I was leading. I purposely chose the 3.5 mile trail in hopes that everyone would be able to finish.   We met up at the visitors center at 9am and started out in the chilly windy morning. The first mile was a nice gradual climb. I hung back with Chris and Sharon as Linda and Dianna blazed up the trail. We finally caught up to them at a trail intersection. They were sitting on a bench and as we got to the bench, both Chris and Sharon plopped down. I didn’t realize how hard the trail was til the newbie Sharon mentioned she wasn’t sure she could make it to the top. I was just about to give her the “You can do it!” speech, when to my surprise, before I could utter a word, the other ladies showered Sharon with encouragement, compliments, and affirmations that YES!, she could do this! They were going to make sure ALL the Dames made it up! I just stood back, amazed at the camaraderie of this group. The others even went so far as to hlep find a stick for Sharon to use to help her for the rest of the hike. My heart swelled and I had to choke down a tear and thought, “This is what Trail Dames is all about.” Women encouraging one another to accomplish what they didn’t even know they could do!
With renewed determination, Sharon got up with her stick and started up the trail. We all hiked the last .7 miles, (which happened to be the steepest and toughest .7 miles of the hike), together. When we neared the top, I ran up to the sign indicting we reached the summit. When I yelled back to let them know they were yards away, I swear I heard chorus’ of “thank goodness, YAY!, and FINALLY.” Haha! As each Dame reached the sign, I snapped a photo and high fived the hiker while each person cheered for the next. Linda made it point to say, it was a lot tougher than she expected. Someone mentioned that walking 3 miles and hiking 3 miles were two different experiences. I  understood, after all, I was once in their shoes.
With no view in sight, I point up to our very last, strenous piece of the trail. We have to boulder climb (literally climb) up to the summit. They all look at me like I’m crazy. At this point Sharon says that there is no way she can do it. (Crickets…)No one says a word. This time I pipe up and say, “YES you can! You didn’t hike 1.7 miles, all up, for nothing. You all worked so hard for that view, you EARNED that view! Now lets go get that view!” One by one, they caustiously placed their hands and feet in foot holds and climbed thier way up the last .15 mile to that view. I went up last to make sure everyone made it up safely. One by one, I could hear the gasps as they each reached the top. Chris, usually chatty, was silent. She was taking in the view. Linda was the first to say it was all worth the climb, (everyone nodded in agreement). Sharon, told us that she would of never have seen this view or made it up to the top if it wasn’t for all for us being there for her. We stayed up there for a good 20 minutes, just taking in our accomplishment, before we decided to hike back down to the cars. It was a great day, and as many times as I’ve seen that view, today’s view was especially special because it was a “first time” view for many of these new Dames. I’m glad I was able to show and share it with these ladies. Til next time… GET OUTDOORS!!!