May 20th, North Carolina
The birds woke me up as it was getting light this morning, right around 6am. This has been a fairly reliable alarm: enthusiastic bird sounds and early morning light.
I had a 6-mile hike down to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for resupply before continuing on for the next several days.
The trail downhill was awash in blooming mountain laurel. Amazing!
I arrived to the NOC just after 9am. The trail crossed a bridge right in the middle of the complex. Unfortunately, the restaurants didn’t open until 11am so I just went to the General Store where I charged my phone and organized myself for the next several days. There was a limited supply of things I wanted, but I made do with what they had. I also bought a couple things to eat right away so I could start again on a full stomach.
It was a nice afternoon and the trail ascended to a series of “balds,” most of which were bald in name only. The final one, Wayah Bald, had a beautiful stone lookout tower with views in every direction.
After a couple more miles I arrived to a nice little tentsite with spring. Again, I was the only one there. The bulk of the northbound hikers are well past me now. I still see a few per day, plus section hikers, but nothing like several weeks ago where dozens of NOBO thru hikers crossed paths with me daily. It seems I’m back to a fairly quiet hike.