We weren't exactly stopping in town, but we were excited to make it to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) which has a number of services, including a restaurant! To do so, it would take some serious knee buckling downhill at the end of the day. The day was pretty quiet, but we did make the acquaintance of Rob (Scribbles- named as such for constantly taking notes for his blog at thetrek.co, check him out soon when he manages to turn his notes into posts). He's one lanky dude and can pretty handily skip whole mountains in a single step, but, he hasn't been of late. He's already on in his third pair of shoes after some extremely poor advice from previous outfitters.
He sauntered off after taking some photos of his teddy bear mascot and we spent the rest of the day heading towards the NOC with no interruption until shortly after the Wesser Bald Shelter.
*Maybe our scorpion will met his bear sometime down the road
We met two backpackers heading south bound (I believe for a several night excursion) who warned us that the downhill coming up could get treacherous and if we had to crawl at certain portions, we should't feel any sham. This, as one may imagine, sounded ominous. After a couple of slightly narrow miles with clear views from the 4000 foot high ridge, Tyler had decided they had exaggerated. But then we hit mile 133. The trail suddenly plummeted and large sections of the trail had eroded after the trees on the side of the trail had burned away (not super certain which of the area fires burned up this section, but there have been several areas of fire damage along the journey). We slowed way down, but did manage to navigate the cliffs without crawling. Em's fear of heights kicked in only a little. This small section has been the closest to Knife's Edge on Katahdin that Tyler seen.
Again, we ran into Scribbles setting up his camp about a mile from the NOC, and soon after an old friend of his, Chewie, showed up, who was looking forward to the restaurant, a shower and a night in the hostel. He confirmed the rumors that the restaurant closed at 7. It was already 5:30 so we cut the chit chat short and hit the trail.
The last mile was, thankfully, short so we were at the NOC at 5:45, where, lo and behold, we found a rogue Funky Stuff sitting on a bench fiddling with his phone. He had been abandoned by Dad so he was glad to see the rest of his family, his big sis and his big brother. Greg also rolled in at the same moment, and, without a second to spare, we grabbed a table for fournfour to properly feast and hydrate.
During dinner Andrew and Bambiface showed up at 7 and the restaurant was gracious enough to serve them a reduced menu. Bambi is a new acquaintance, who we definitely hope to meet again. She is also keeping a blog that you can find at: https://happytrailschelsea.wordpress.com
Tyler told Greg about his overthought and complicated trail name suggestions (Buccaneer, Mutineer, Carp Diem), then Tyler, Emily and Funky formed a super squad to find a site for the night. By this point it was nearly 9 PM and we had no idea where the campsites were, so we continued up the trail. We ended up walking in the night for about a mile before we found anything suitable. After nearly setting up completely Funky said "Is that poison ivy?" It was. For those that know Tyler, this should have been high on his priority list to check for. So we were forced to pack up and push on. We found another site nearby, set up camp, and headed to bed. Camp was at more of an incline than we would have preferred, but home is where our feet just can't go anymore.