This past weekend I took off a little later than I had intended on Friday to make a short, but yet strenuous hike up the AT from the NOC to Wesser Bald. My wife had surprisingly said to me earlier in the week "why don't you go off for an overnighter." Well before I made my decision to take her up on the offer I wanted to make sure my honey do's didn't get to long or else I wasn't going to take the deal Well she assured me that this was no trick to make the honey do's any longer so I took off.
I finally arrived at the NOC around 3:30pm and quickly got my start headed up the trail. I knew this was going to be a hike up, and I mean UP! The elevation at the NOC is 1723 ft. and at the top of Wesser Bald it's 4627 ft. The assent is over 6.5 miles. My goal was to reach the top before dark and hang then wake up early to go up the observation tower to get some pictures of the sunrise over the mountains. The views from a top of the tower are unobstructed for 360 degrees.
Well it was HOT! And after an hour of hiking I knew I was in for it. I had only gone 1 mile and had already gone through a good bit of the 2L of h2o. I was already past the first h2o source and wouldnít find another source until the Wesser Shelter. The hike up the mountain was slow going but I had to push on as best I could because I knew I was going to be cutting it close making it to my destination before darkness. As it turns out just after the Jump up Lookout section I did finally run out of water which I was fearful was going to happen. On the bright side I only had about a mile and a half to go to get to the h2o source. The down side was the trail was steep and did I mention it was HOT. I was sweating like a mule and I knew it was going to take h2o to keep me in good condition to press on. Thatís something I didnít have at this point and I knew I was in trouble. Not critical but I knew it was important at this point to reach the h2o source.
I rolled up to the Wesser Shelter area and there happened to be two other North bound hikers already settled into the shelter. It was getting dark quick so there was no making it to the top. Plus I needed to fill up my bladder and get myself hydrated. I could tell I had over done it. The two guys at the shelter were really cool and gave me some of their water so I didnít have to walk all the way to the h2o source to get some. I gladly took them up on the offer and just refilled their water bottles. I went ahead and hung my hammock there and settled in for the evening. The plan now was to get up early and make it on up the hill for the short .8 or .9 hike to get to the tower on top of Wesser Bald.
Morning came too early and I was just too sacked out to get up. I needed the rest I could tell. I ended up sleeping in. I finally drug myself out of my cozy Warbird at 8:30am, packed my gear, and headed on up to the top. A short time later I had made it. I reached the destination point but the plan of seeing the sunrise from a top of the tower was not to be. The sun was well past sunrise at this point and the bad news for my plans to take photoís was met with socked in clouds. Well I didnít hike up this dad-gum mountain to NOT take photoís so I made the best of the opportunity. Hereís a few pano shots from the top:
After a short time at the top I began my way back down the mountain to the NOC. The only thing I knew I wanted to do besides get back to my car was to get a pano shot at the Jump up Lookout. Once I made it back down to this point I took off the pack to set up my camera gear. It was a good break after hiking on a steep decent for nearly 2 miles. Oh one other thing I did was make sure I was filled to the brim with h2o on my way back by the water source. I wasnít going to run out again on my way back down! Anyway hereís the shot I took at the Jump up Lookout on my way back down.
It was a good quick trip but it was tough. Actually I believe it was a blessing because I found out from the two North bounders that the water sources in Georgia were drying up. They had to try to filter water out of mud puddles in several spots. It sounded like it could be a very dicey situation. The reason this meant so much to me was because my brother and I had a planned trip in a couple weeks to that area to hike a section of the AT. After hearing this news of the water sources I made up my mind that we needed to reconsider our trip in a couple weeks. The last thing I want is to run out of water on a distance hike, get dehydrated, and possibly die! My brother and I discussed it and weíve changed our plans. We also came to the conclusion that we wonít be planning any distance hikes in the summer ever again. Itís Spring and Fall for those trips and shorter trips with more hang time in the Summer! Iím getting too old to do the things I could do when I was a wee bit younger. Plus, and Iíve read this here on the forums several times, I donít want to make whatís supposed to be a fun trip a miserable one.