Our shuttle driver, Ken Hawkins, picked us up right on schedule, and whisked Scar and I off to the trailhead. The morning was going to start with a steep 2,000 foot climb to the top of Bald Knob. Ken told us that it would be a very steep climb for the first mile, until we got to the dirt road, and then it would get easier. Ken lied. With a full resupply on my back, it was a hard climb all the way to the top.

Appalachian Trail

Ken Hawkins

The climb up was made even more difficult by the fact that the temperatures quickly reached the 80’s. But the skies were blue, the trail was smooth, and on the way up I even saw a beautiful deer. When I reached the top, I discovered that the bald was not actually bald, so there was no view, and Scar, being the better climber, was long gone.

Appalachian Trail

Doh! A Deer!

After a short descent and climb, I arrived at the summit of the second mountain of the day, Cole Mountain. Cole Mountain had a pretty decent view, but after descending further, I arrived at Tar Jacket Ridge which was simply amazing. This entire ridge was a bald, and there were fantastic views in every direction. I stopped here for a quick snack, and soon another hiker arrived and introduced himself as Action Jackson from Indianapolis.

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

View from Cole Mountain

Appalachian Trail

Tar Jacket Ridge

Appalachian Trail

Action Jackson

Although it was very hot, the rest of the ridge walk was very nice with a lot of gentle ups and downs. While I was resting after one of the ups, a couple of section hikers came by and introduced themselves as Orange and Don’t Know Don’t Care. Don’t Know Don’t Care is a retired human resources director and is about my age. I walked along with these guys for several miles, as we followed the increasingly rocky trail along the Piney River North Fork. It was nice talking with them as it made the miles seem to quickly go by. I left these folks at the Seeley-Woodworth Shelter, and continued on my way.

The climb to the Spy Rock campsite, although only a few hundred feet, was extremely steep and rocky. The campsite was dry, so I was also carrying three liters of water. By this time, I was beginning to run out of gas, and I thought I would never get to the top. That road would have been a challenge for a 4-wheel drive Jeep! Finally, I made it to the campsite where I found Scar, with his tent already set up, cooking his dinner.

Appalachian Trail

View from Spy Rock Campsite

Although I didn’t have the energy to actually climb Spy Rock, the campsite itself is very beautiful with views to both the east and the west. I’m enjoying my dinner, and getting ready to turn in, while watching a gorgeous sunset.

Appalachian Trail

Home for the Night