2 by 6 – Blazing the Appalachian Trail


It was time to repaint the blazes on our section of the Appalachian Trail. Our section, from Devil’s Fork Gap to Rice Gap, between Madison County, NC and Unicoi County in Tennessee, is now well-used by thru-hikers.

Equipped with semi-gloss paint, a brush, a cut-out cardboard form and a scraper, we climbed up the dirt road to the beginning of our section on Rice Gap. We only do this once every three to four years, so we don’t remember how to do this properly. We forgot a bucket so once the paint can was open, we had to carry it carefully in our hands, hoping we wouldn’t trip.

Lenny insisted that we only blaze one way, so we could see what hikers were seeing. Still, we disagreed on how and where blazes should go. As with everything else dealing with the A.T., there are rules.

Both in-line and off-set double blazes should be used sparingly since they become meaningless with frequent use.

Still there’s the definition of sparingly.

“We should have a blaze here.”

“No, the trail is well-defined here.”

“But the trail makes a bend.”

“But it’s an obvious turn. Look how clear it is here.”

“It’s clear because the vegetation is down. What happens in the middle of the summer, when the sides are covered with leaves, stems and small trees.”

And so the day went – discussing every blaze. We met over 20 thru-hikers, heading to Maine. The older ones stopped to talk to us and find out what we were doing. The younger folks were listening to their Ipods and just blasted through. But I made sure they at least knew that real people maintained the Appalachian Trail.

ATblazing1We only met two guys going southbound like us. They were out for the day and wanted to have their picture taken painting a blaze. Here’s Cookoo from Elkin, NC.

They were really enjoying themselves.

ATblazing2 Like Tom Sawyer and the fence incident, we should have charged them for the privilege. To the right is Nebo from Boonville, NC.

The flowers were at their best – several types of trilliums, violets and many other species.Larkspur on A.T.

My favorite is larkspur, shown here.

Lenny will be leading a Carolina Mountain Club hike on May 9 which includes this section of trail, so come on out.

But as I mentioned, we only blazed one-way, so tomorrow, we go out to do the same thing the other way. At least, we’ll now know what we need to take.

The fun never ends.





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