Three Summers of Trail Life – Nearly 40 Years Ago
Hante AT Trek 1976 – Sam’s Gap to Laurel Fork Gorge
15 Years Old
July 12, 1st Day:
Hiked 6 miles. Sunny at first but changed to thunder storm on Big Bald Mtn. Got 3 bee stings at first of hike. Scott P. got lost and twisted ankle. Had peanut stew for dinner.
July 13, 2nd Day: Hiked 10 mi. Beautiful weather, sunny and warm. It was hard hiking today but we made it in about 4:00 PM. I twisted my ankle but it seems to be okay. For dinner we had spaghetti.
July 14, 3rd Day: Hiked 15 mi. We had great weather today. We started about 9:00 and hiked to the Nolichucky River. There we went swimming and washed our hair. We left the river about 2:00 and hiked until 8:00 which was quite unexpected. We missed Laurel Springs and ended up camping at Beauty Spot 4 miles later. We had Almond Rice for supper then went to bed about 12:00.
July 15, 4th Day: Free day. Today we didn’t do much of anything. We read aloud out of Walk About and hiked up to the bald. A couple came by and talked to us about the A.T. and then gave us a watermelon. We had potato fritters and Elderberry fritters for dinner.
July 16th 5th Day: Hiked 10 mi. When we started out it was cloudy but it soon cleared up. First off we climbed Unaka Mt. Then we went on to Cherry Shelter where we had lunch. Soon after that a thunder storm rolled in which continued until we reached our campsite. We camped in an apple orchard and had Bulgar Curry for supper.
That was the last entry for Hante 1976 but we went the full amazing 10 days. Flash forward 1 year and I again was out on the trail. The summer is 1977 and this time around the experience is different but also wonderful. My journal entries are also much longer this year so you’ll just get one.
Hante Trek 1977: Mt. Rogers – Laurel Fork Gorge
16 Years Old
Friday, July 22: What a beautiful camping spot! We’re up near the top of Mt. Rogers in a big field. There are a few stands of Spruce trees, but other than that they’re only crops of rocks, ferns and grass. The clouds are blowing right on us and I can hear a bird singing in the distance. The space reminds me so much of Scotland and the Moors around in the Lake District.
Today I think our whole group grew, each beginning to know the others better. By the end of the 10 days we’re surely all going to know everyone else’s fault and hopefully our own.
We’re having cheese rice for dinner and then we’ll all get a good night’s sleep on the soft grass. Tomorrow it is over Mt. Rogers!
Oh! We ate lunch at Old Orchard Shelter – what a view (if you could see through the clouds)!
It is so fun to read back through these entries and relive this trek – the details from my 16 year old brain help to bring back those 10 days on the trail. As I flip through the few pages of my journal from the next year, 1978 (Fontana Dam to Dick’s Creek Gap, Georgia), I see that my head was not into journaling. That summer became more a leadership summer for me and I think my need for writing was not there on that trip. That year was a year of pictures of which you see a few here.
Life on the trail is a journey, no matter how long you are out or how old you are. It is a place unlike any other to have space for reflection, to challenge your endurance, to build friendships and life live fully immersed in the natural world. I encourage you to step out this summer and go on your own Hante – you will never regret it!
Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director