April 5 - Wesser Bald Shelter (131.4)

Wake up to a cold morning, first one up but still leave about 20 minutes after Achin.

Back on the trail and we are going two shelters out, about 11 miles, so a full day. Cover the first 3.6 miles quickly, and get to Burningtown Gap in time to get a second breakfast put on by the First Baptist Church of Burningtown. Usual fair plus sausage biscuits with gravy. Hearty fire going, they do this twice a year - we just got lucky hitting the second one.

Back on trail make it to Copper Ridge Bald and with phone coverage, call Deb for 20 minutes since it's been a week since we've talked. Back on trail moving well, making it to Tellico Gap at 8.4 miles and stop for a bit of lunch with two other thrus and three section hikes we've been hiking near.

A gentleman drives up and asks if we need anything, including a ride. Glad to go anywhere we want. We all say no. He asks if we are going to take the Trail or the road up (we are sitting on a dirt road) and we all say the Trail. He says the road is a little steeper but a little shorter. Makes no real sense so finish snack, and three day hikers head across road and disappear and I follow about 2 minutes later. So fast forward, I took the road which was indistinguishable from the Trail, unless I was more diligent in looking for the AT blazes (white rectangles on trees). It was steep and seemed quick when I arrived at the fire tower on top of the hill.

The fire tower is open to the public, and about 50' up. Full panoramic view including Fontana Lake, the last major stopping point before the Great Smokey Mountains, about 4 days away. Day hikers including a couple with a six month old golden lab are here too.

Continue on to shelter about a mile away, and stop for water 0.1 miles before hand. The water comes off a spring which flows into about a 100 pound carved stone block with a basin and a small "u" cut into one side to let the water flow. A relic of the WPA?

I am first hiker to shelter which provides first shot at a campsite. Only one reasonably good flat site so set up there.

Uneventful night.


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