Revisiting a section of the Appalachian Trail

Beth at Devils Fork Gap
Beth at Devils Fork Gap

Trails change constantly.

Nowhere is this truer than on the Appalachian Trail. For years, Lenny and I have maintained a piece of the A.T. from Devils Fork Gap to Rice Gap on the North Carolina/Tennessee border.

We went up there at least four times a year to clip, clean and paint blazes. I have blogged and written about  tr ail maintenance so many times.

Yesterday, Beth R. and I walked the A.T from Devils Fork to Rice Gap  and back to see what had happened to it. It was not the same. As we went over a stile after we parked, we saw the first sign for trail magic.

“Call me to stay  in a hostel for free”,  the sign said. Now there are plenty of places that offer this kind of hospitality. But never before on this section?

Hikers Paradise
Hikers Paradise

The next sign was for the Hiker Paradise on Rector Laurel Rd. This turned out to be a pizza and soda pop place. We saw quite a few hikers on the trail yesterday, but none at the snack bar.

More signs about losing local dogs who prefer to follow hikers.

Wow! After years of benign disinterest, Flag Pond, Tennessee residents have discovered that they live close to the A.T. and that they might make good use of it.

While we were maintaining the trail, we had tried to clear the A.T. of two fallen-down cabin parts. We removed a toilet and a couple of cabinet pieces but couldn’t handle the old beams. Somehow the current maintainers managed to get rid of those pieces – good for them.

Spiderworts
Spiderworts

The US Forest Service had opened a wildlife management cut about ten years ago. But they never kept it up and trees and bushes are now threatening to cover up the view again.

Not too many flowers until we got over Frozen Knob, the high point.

Once we started down to Rice Gap, the trail was lush with blooming spiderworts and firepinks and white budding flowers that I couldn’t recognize.

The latter may have been doll’s eyes, white baneberry, without the eyes yet. It’s not easy to recognize this plant unless it has the dark central spot, the eye.

I got to keep track of that plant before the eyes come out. I never saw this flower before. Another change on this section.

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