Mile 1763.6 (TN): May 4, Iron Mountain Shelter to Boots Off Hostel

There were five people who slept in the shelter and I camped out nearby. After packing up I went back to the shelter to have breakfast and talk to the others. I hoped to get to the hostel and pick Ryan up before heavy rain started in late afternoon; so I was the first to head out after my quick breakfast. 

It had rained heavily for a few hours last night and everything was wet this morning. The sky was overcast and foggy. 

The trail was mostly downhill today. I traveled for a couple hours on a high ridge above Watauga Lake, which I could occasionally see through the trees and fog. And I could hear motorboats moving around the lake all morning.

Over the past several days we have passed long stretches of what look like May Apple forests.

And finally the trail descended steeply down through a series of switchbacks as the skies started to clear.

I passed dozens of hikers heading uphill as I went down. “You’re going the wrong way!” is a common NOBO joke as we pass. I think it’s been rare for them to see people traveling south, but it will be more common for them further north when the new crop of southbound hikers starts this summer. 

At the bottom of the hill the trail circled the lake for several miles.

And, just before I was about to head away from the lake toward the hostel, I ran into a father and son providing trail magic in the parking lot. They live nearby and the son had thru hiked in 2015. Now they come out to do this each year. I couldn’t stay long. They kindly offered to let me take some food along for Ryan as well.

It was a short walk to Boots Off. I picked up Ryan’s car and headed back to get him. The rain started as we drove. But by 5pm we had arrived to our friends’ house in nearby Unicoi, Tennessee. We planned to stay with them a night or two before Ryan headed home and I returned to the trail. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *