Tuesday, March 9th, 2021
It had been another cold night and the morning would be equally uncomfortable. We had to ford the creek many times through ice cold water. I had a close call and nearly fell in. That would have made for a really bad day!
It was a brisk morning, but a beautiful one. When we didn’t find ourselves hiking in it, we would be alongside the creek or overtop of it using one of the trail’s many well constructed foot bridges. It was truly scenic and would get more pretty as the sun rose higher in the sky. The trail followed along a dirt road and I’d spot a puddle on the side of it filled with tiny, black tadpoles.
After crossing many bridges, we’d walk under an overpass and up a steep hill to the road. We stopped right outside the graffiti-decorated tunnel next to a trailhead, waiting for Chestnut to catch up. He was only able to hike with us for a few days and we hadn’t seen him the past two nights. We weren’t even sure exactly how far back he was, but it was noon, so we spent our time eating everything in our packs.
We ate a little too much, but planned on popping into Bryson City to resupply once Chestnut showed up. Trevor and I have always been stoveless, but Middle Brother brought one on this trip, so we enjoyed some hot trail food for once. As we ate, I’d cuss over gum that got stuck on my bare foot (it’s COVID times, no less), and we people-watched. Many day hikers came and went. Due to the graffiti-decorated tunnel, this was a popular destination within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
We were thrilled when we got a Chestnut sighting out in the distance around 2:30 pm. He had parked at this trailhead, so he drove us all into the cute little town of Bryson City. While hiking the Appalachian Trail, we’ve traveled pretty close to this town when passing through the Nantahala Outdoor Center (or “the NOC” as is often called), but never paid the downtown area a visit.
We ate some delicious burgers at the Nantahala Brewing Co. before Chestnut took us to resupply at Ingles. We had to resupply for five long days, so we weren’t too thrilled about the long stretch ahead. After fighting to stuff all the food in our tiny packs, Chestnut drove us back to the tunnel and hiked through it with us before saying farewell. It was so awesome to have him join us. He only hiked with us a short section of the Appalachian Trail, but he was still without a doubt a “tramily” member of ours. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset during our three miles to camp at mile 60.6 at Lower Forney Creek.
12.0 miles (19.3 km)
Jump Ahead to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 5
Jump Back to the Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 3
Start from the Beginning: Benton MacKaye Trail: Part 1