Friday, January 9, 2015

Appalachian Trail: Allen Gap to Little Laurel Shelter

With a day off before our mini road-trip to Upstate South Carolina, I asked for and was granted permission to go for a hike today. I did not want to drive far and so I decided that an interesting option might be to hike the Appalachian Trail from Allen Gap. I got myself a full mug of coffee this morning and hit the road for the short drive to the Tennessee/North Carolina border at Allen Gap. I parked by the combination Cherokee/Pisgah National Forest sign
Pisgah sign
and hit the trail.

Allen Gap sign
I decided that my destination for today's hike would be the Little Laurel Shelter which is 4.9 miles from Allen Gap. It was a cold morning and all the leaves on the rhododendron were curled up.
curled rhody leaves
If you want more information on rhododendron leaf curl see this.  I started to warm up as I gently ascended. Pretty early into the hike I came to an area where the trail very closely skirted a road. I decided to head over to the road to see what was there. I immediately found a large family cemetery.
Chandler Cemetery
Many of the marked graves had the name Chandler etched into the headstones. There were a large quantity of graves marked only with flat stones. Many of the graves had been recently decorated with artificial flowers. As I headed back towards the road from the cemetery I noticed an old log cabin which was nearly engulfed by vegetation.
overgrown cabin
I took a detour over to the cabin and had a look inside. It was filled with the detritus of years of use as someone's domicile.
old shoe

After looking around the cabin a bit I got back on the trail.
Appalachian Trail
I tried to look for anything that seemed familiar from my thru-hike on this section of trail nearly 15 years ago. The only things that seemed to dredge up any memories were some pipes that had been set into the ground.
I'm guessing that they were set into the ground as a benchmark of some sort, but there is no discernible information engraved into them, at least not anymore.

After a fairly steep climb I arrived at the Little Laurel Shelter.
Little Laurel Shelter
It did not look familiar to me at all and looking back at my journal I can see I did not stay at it. I probably stopped at it for a snack break though. I looked inside the shelter to find a register which I read and signed.
I then tested out the privy before eating a snack in some flurries. As I got set to leave the shelter the sun came out.
sunny trail
 The clear weather that had been predicted was finally starting to materialize. Even with the sun it did not warm up much on my hike back to the car.   

hiking back to car

Yearly hiking mileage for 2015: 14.5 miles

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