Posted by: pjbarr | April 3, 2010

First Day Off

Start: Bryson City
Finish: Bryson City
Distance: 0.0 mi.
Trip Distance: 135.0 mi.
Side Trips: Franklin
Side Trip Miles: Drove
State: North Carolina
Highlights: Franklin Hiker Bash

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are” -Bill Watterson, Author “Calvin and Hobbes”

Allison and I got a great night of sleep, sleeping in until nearly noon. It felt great to get a lot of rest in a soft bed but it mostly felt great sleeping next to Allison again after a two week absence.

We drove to Franklin on the nauseating NC28. I had chores, mainly laundry and re-supply to do, but we were also driving back to attend Franklin’s well-hyped AT Hiker Bash. The event during the day was small but I still reconnected and spoke with many friends and people. I saw Fishin’ Fred again and picked up my box of extra supplies I left in his hotel room earlier in the week. I also saw Miss Janet, who remembered me. I introduced her to Allison.

Morgan Summerville waved at me from across the way which excited me. I had missed speaking with Morgan the last two times I saw him late last year. Most importantly, I was excited that he remembered me and who I was. Morgan is the southern director of the ATC and I hope he will be a great resource and ally in brining the Shuckstack restoration to fruition with me, as well as lookout tower access dates at Albert Mountain next year. Not only that, but he knew I was thru-hiking and raining money for Shuckstack. It was great talking with him and knowing his interest in my hike and projects.

I spoke with Gene Espy for several minutes. This was very special. Gene is one of my hiking heroes. I first met him at Trail Days in Damascus last year. He remembered me which was particularly exciting to me. He even remembered that Iwas currently writing a book. I told him that I mention him frequently in my journaling and think of him often on the trail. I also told him that I visited the summit of Hawk Mountain in Georgia because of his experience there. He excitedly narrated his story from Hawk Mountain which I had read in his book. We shook hands and agreed to get together to speak when I am finished with my thru-hike.

I reconnected with Jennifer Pharr Davis, at AT women’s speed record holder, whom I also met in Demascus last year, and introduced her to Allison as well.

I ran into Superman and The Professor, too! I hadn’t seen them since Low Gap shelter in Georgia and had greatly mieed them. Allison and I gave the professor a ride to the outfitter on the other side of town. He graciously offered us and open invitation to stay at his house if we visit Boulder, CO – and oh we will – soon! Thanks, Professor! Count on us taking you up on that offer for sure!

I did laundry and caught up on some journaling for a few hours. It was very relaxing. But it was most fun simply hanging out with Allison and just being with her.

We ate dinner at Fat Buddies BBQ next door to the laundry place. It was only fitting that I eat here during my thru-hike as Allison and I have had countless post-hike feasts here in the past. We’ve taken quite a liking to the place and it was delicious as usual.

After dinner, we drove to Woodlawn Cemetary and spent an unsuccessful hour searching for the grave of Albert Siler, namesake of Albert Mountain and grandfather of Nantahala legend Rufus Morgan. Some wise guy wrote in Hiking North Carolina’s Lookout Towers that he was buried there, but I couldn’t find him.

Following a trip to Kmart to re-supply – the same Kmart where my friend Blue Light got her trail name during her 2005 thru-hike – we returned to Franklin where the Hiker Bash had turned to a party and moved to the Sapphire Inn. There was a live band playing folk music and lots of hikers milling about.

Superman and the Professor were there, as were others. I finally reconnected with Cope, Max Factor, Jack, Hercules, even Jim and Peggy from that night at Gooch Mountain shelter long ago. I was especially excited to see Cope again, and the feeling was mutual, of course he was a bit inebriated, but he was doing quite a good job spreading my reputation as a legendary hiker. I apparently so impressed him with my end of the day Slaughter Mountain side trip that night that he has told everyone since – even wanting to change my name to “Badass”.

He even honored me the other day by climbing Standing Indian Mountain and getting to the side trail and asking himself, “What would Whippersnap do?” and then he climbed to the summit. Cope is a good guy and a lot of fun – I miss hiking with him and told him he would catch up soon as I begin taking weekends off in North Carolina. We parted, but not before he danced after getting the band to play “Rocky Top”. Good times and good live music – here come the goose bumps and great memories.

Superman and The Professor tried to convince Allison to tie my shoelaces together to slow me down. She really enjoyed meeting everyone and putting faces with names from my journal. They all enjoyed meeting her after having heard so much about her since I talk about her all the time out here.

The Hiker Bash was a lot of fun. I briefly thought back to that first night about how worried I was about not making friendships. Now I have deep trail friendships with so many people – deep enough that it makes it difficult to get ahead of them on the trail.

I spoke once more with Ron Haven and thanked him for organizing all of the festivities. He’s such a character and a great guy. Allison enjoyed meeting him too. We tried to hunt down Tim and Kelly from Charlotte and Chef, but were unsuccessful. We got an ice cream and departed for Bryson City as it was getting late. Thanks to Allison, friends, and good rest my first day off the trail was a good great one!


  1. Albert SIler and his wife are listed as being buried in Section 3 of woodlawn Cemetery (
    Other relatives including his famous grandson, A. Rufus Morgan, is buried in the cemetery of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cartoogechaye, just west of Franklin on Rt64. If you take aptly named St. John’s Church Road to the right, you will find a little church that Morgan built and preached at after he retired. His grave is near the far end of the cemetery from the parking lot. There is a wealth of local history in that cemetery, and around the base of the little church. A lovely place.

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