Day 5: Wayah Bald to Tellico Gap, June 28, 2017
“I’ll just hike a little ways with you”
Words from Momma Puma as we pulled into the Wayah Bald parking area. I barely heard her as my senses were overtaken by the sheer jaw-dropping vista this morning at Wayah Bald.
The Wayah Bald fire tower, substantial as it is, sustained a clear amount of damage from the fires. It’s majestic nature has not been affected in the slightest, I am happy to report! The interior chamber of the fire tower on the ground level would be a great hiding place in a storm.
Done exploring at the fire tower, we headed north on the AT and downhill. We passed the sign for the shelter, then promptly, went the wrong way! I figured the sign for the shelter meant it was a blue blaze, twenty minutes later I am shaking my head as it seemed we were headed around the mountain and below the fire tower. The one time I have used technology on the trail to actually check my location…and a good call! Guthook’s guide app showed that we were indeed off the Appalachian Trail…it didn’t show what trail we WERE on (a drawback to the app is that it doesn’t show all the intersecting trails) but we knew we were on the Bartram Trail. It was encouraging to see that I was correct in where I thought I was…anyway, we backtracked…ugh.
Once back at the intersection, Mama Puma, decided she didn’t want to climb back up the hill to her car. Too funny! So she joined me, for better or worse, to Tellico Gap.
The woodsy trail was a delightful change from the rugged, eroded trail into the NOC I’d hiked the day before. Lush green engulfed us all of the way to Tellico Gap.
It was a long hike with my pesky blisters making themselves heard with every step after four miles. At the shelter I sat down for a break…a real break…and changed the bandages on the blisters. After about 25 minutes, Momma Puma indicated we needed to get moving, so I regretfully pulled on my boots.
The new bandages were helpful, but as we neared Tellico Gap I was singing “Tellico, Oh Tellico, these old boots have got to go” as my feet screamed for freedom. You do whatever gets you down the trail!
Yes! The light at the end of the tunnel was NOT an oncoming train!!! After being teased with peeks at the fire road for a mile or so, we reached the parking area at Tellico Gap. Flip flops here I come!
In my trusty RAV4 once again, we drove down the not scary side of the mountain, then made two more stops: 1) back to Momma Puma’s truck at Wayah Bald, then 2) repark my car at Winding Stair in preparation for my last hike for this trip…Wayah Bald to Winding Stair.
Blisters be quiet because I am hiking on!