Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 37: Watauga Lake

April 13: The morning started partly cloudy and turned to mostly cloudy later in the afternoon, but the thing that really annoyed me was a long climb to the top of a mountain early in the morning where there were absolutely no views, just to descend again to Watauga Lake. A complete PUD (Pointless Up and Down), and a pretty big one at that. Why couldn’t the trail just contour around the mountain instead of charging directly over it?


Eventually I reached the Shook Branch Recreation Area along Watauga Lake. It was a nice place to stop and lunch, which I did. There had allegedly been flush toilets and everything at this location and I was itching it use one, but the doors to the restroom had been locked. Argh! I joked with the other hikers that we should have left a poop in front of the restroom doors to show our displeasure. You can lock the doors, but you can’t stop us from pooping!

Somewhat to my surprise, I met a fellow named Jax—Little Engine’s hiking partner who had missed the trail to the shelter the day before. He was waiting for Little Engine to catch up. I was surprised because Little Engine had left the shelter close to an hour before I did—as far I knew, she was ahead of me on the trail, which meant she was also head of Jax. I’m not sure how she could have gotten ahead of him without him knowing it, though, but those two seemed cursed and kept missing each other over and over again!

From this point, the next several miles of trail were closed to camping due to bear problems. Even the Watauga Lake Shelter had been closed to campers. This wasn’t an issue for me—they had posted signs warning of the closure long before we arrived and I had deliberately camped south of the closure and knew I could easily get past it and camp north of the closure. But I did keep my eyes open for bears—if there were bear problems in this area, I figured my chances of seeing a bear were better than average! But I saw no bears either. Disappointing, I know.

I arrived at the Iron Mountain Shelter after my longest day yet of hiking: 22.6 miles. Mere seconds after I arrived, the rain had started. Whew! When I arrived at the shelter, Mrs. Dash and Little Engine were already there, and Little Engine was wondering what had happened to Jax. I told her I last saw him at Watauga Lake earlier in the day and had no idea how they had passed each other without knowing it, but that’s what had happened. Jax eventually showed up about an hour later, soaking wet from the rain. I was sure glad I didn’t have to hike in the rain, but finally after over 24 hours apart, Little Engine and Jax had re-united.

And that was pretty much it to the day’s hiking. Not a lot to report, really!


Watauga Lake, far below! See the dam at the far end of the lake? The AT crosses it there.


The Shook Branch Recreation Area along the shores of Watauga Lake.

Watch out for the geese! They were hissing at me and not very friendly!



Spring is in the air!

Mrs. Dash on the shores of Watauga Lake.

Nearing the dam

And crossing the dam…



After leaving Watauga Lake, the trail climbed to a ridgetop which offered some nice views occasionally during the day. The ridgetop was relatively flat and easy to walk along which was my favorite part of it, although the climb up was sweaty! =)

The first May apples start sprouting on the trail.

1 comment:

Okie Dog said...

Beautiful pictures, Ryan! Love the waterfall (rapids). It looks so refreshing.