Indian Grave Gap to the Nolichucky River

June 8th and 9th


DAY #1 (4.1 miles hiked) 


Shannon shuttled us up to Indian Grave Gap after leaving my car at Johnny's Hostel near the Chestoa Bridge, and Campbell and I set out on the Appalachian Trail heading south at about 1:30 for a "boys only" trip.  


The first couple miles was a fairly level trek on the north side of the Unaka Mountain range.  While being on the north-facing side, and in heavy Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel, much of our hike was unusually dark... almost as if we were hiking at dusk instead of the afternoon.  However, when the mountain opened up through an occasional clearing we had some nice views looking toward Erwin.  The Mountain Laurel were also in bloom making it a pretty hike, and in some places the fallen white blooms completely covered the trail.


With thunder in the distance, Campbell and I made good time.  We only rested once near a nice spring, and after approximately four miles we came across the Curley Maple Gap shelter where we decided to set up camp.  There was already one thru-hiker there when we arrived, and 3 more showed up later in the evening.  One was from Maine, one from Iowa, and a husband-wife couple from Colorado.  We enjoyed our conversations with all of them, and Campbell and I both learned some things about their gear and some tricks they have for light-weight backpacking.


For dinner we ate Ramen noodles and Slim Jims.  Cam (being the social butterfly) was a "hit" among the other hikers.  At about 8:00 a big storm rolled in so I quickly hung our bear bag, and we got in our tent (all the thru-hikers stayed in the shelter, which they could gladly have... see big spider photo below).  We played Yahtzee and talked for an hour or more.  Cam won four games out of five, and after that we went to sleep.


(Click all images for larger photos)

hiking 001.jpg (182219 bytes)

hiking 002.jpg (179751 bytes)

hiking 005.jpg (306940 bytes)

Nice Views Looking Toward Erwin

Northerly Vistas Through the Trees & Mountain Laurel

Huge Spider at the Curley Maple Gap Shelter

hiking 009.jpg (194641 bytes) hiking 011.jpg (226021 bytes) hiking 013.jpg (270898 bytes)
Cam at the Shelter With Some Thru-Hikers Campbell at Curley Maple Gap Bill and Campbell

DAY #2 (4.2 miles hiked) 


I woke up around 7:30, but let Cam sleep until 9:00.  I boiled some water and made some coffee for myself and "3-Day" (trail name for a very nice gentleman from Iowa), and I made some hot chocolate for Cam.  We had granola bars for breakfast.  Three of the four thru-hikers packed up early and left, but "3-Day" stayed and talked with us while we were packing up... showing us more of his gear and telling us stories of his adventures thus far.  We were finally packed up around 11:00 a.m. and said goodbye and good luck to "3-Day", who has 1831.1 more miles to go to his destination at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. 


Our descent down the mountain was pleasant except for a minor cut Campbell got on his knee from a slip and fall.  We stopped at Jones Branch for lunch and to apply a Band-Aid his knee, and then we finished up our last couple miles working our way to the river.  Cam and I talked a lot on the way down, which made time go by fast and kept us moving.  We crossed numerous bridges over Jones Branch, and the sound of the stream alongside the trail was also nice.  


We arrived at the Chestoa Bridge at approximately 1:30, finishing up our last 4.2 miles in 2.5 hours.  Our total distance covered in our "boys only" backpacking trip was 8.3 miles.  Cam and I both had a wonderful time.            

hiking 012.jpg (227258 bytes) hiking 014.jpg (384592 bytes) hiking 017.jpg (683531 bytes)
Cam With His Thru-Hiker Friend "3-Day" Campbell on a Bridge Over Jones Branch Bill Crossing One of Many Bridges on the Descent to the River
hiking 022.jpg (455711 bytes) hiking 024.jpg (476639 bytes) hiking 025.jpg (482677 bytes)
Narrow Log Bridge Over Jones Creek Cam Navigating a Tough Climb in the Nolichucky River Gorge Possum Jr. Showing Off His Climbing Skills
hiking 027.jpg (465573 bytes) hiking 028.jpg (399984 bytes) hiking 029.jpg (275031 bytes)
Railroad Crossing Near the River Campbell on the Chestoa Bridge... Overlooking the Nolichucky River Bill and Cam... Almost Back To the Car