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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Maineiac Outdoors with Carey Kish
Posted: April 13, 2015

Six-Moon Journey: Buckets of sweat the price paid for entry into the Smokies

Carey Kish is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a distance of 2,200 miles over a period of 5-6 months. Entries from Carey’s trail journal are presented here (read them all). You can also follow his journey on his Facebook page.

April 7, 2015: NC Hwy 28 at Fontana Lake marina to Mollies Ridge Shelter, 13.0 miles, 9:20am to 4:30pm. 

Did not want daylight to arrive and guilt me into leaving the very comfy bed and awesome pillows, the best pillows I think I’ve ever slept on. But 7:30 came and with it daylight. I rolled over. A few minutes before eight I could deny it no more: I had to get moving, as a big day of climbing and miles lay ahead.

Made coffee in the room and use creamers borrowed from the dining room. Food was a cherry and cheese Danish purchased at the gas mart store down below the “village” downtown. Showered, packed and out the door around 8:30. Called for shuttle and was soon on the way back to the trail.

The AT goes right over Fontana Dam, the highest east of the Mississippi. Carey Kish photo.

The AT goes right over Fontana Dam, the highest east of the Mississippi. Carey Kish photo.

Cruised along the lake, from high above of course. Came out at the famous Fontana Hilton, the trail shelter for 24 hikers. Stayed here in 1989. Nice spot. Hot showers and restrooms just up the path from shelter.

Walked paved road down to visitor center at dam. Store closed but TVA VC open. Stayed just a few minutes chatting with volunteer behind desk and looking at exhibits. So so cool to once again walk out across Fontana Dam, at 480 feet it is the highest east of the Mississippi. Had the dam to myself, just fine. Took lots of photos. Cool spot, special place. It’s a hoot every time I visit here by the trail.

Up the old road on the other side of the dam to the trail intersection. Veered off into the woods and started climbing in earnest. It would take several hours and lots of sweat to wind my way up to the firetower atop Shuckstack. Scattered showers, most very brief much of the morning. Enough to require the pack cover, but no way on the rainsuit. It’s like 70 degrees and humid as hell.

Humidity reigned but views didn't on the first day in the Smokies. Carey Kish photo.

Humidity reigned but views didn’t on the first day in the Smokies. Carey Kish photo.

Shuckstack tower mostly in the clouds but I made the side trip up to it, an old friend, anyway. Climbed up the first couple platforms and snapped some shots. Continued on, descending at first then climbing up and up. Dripping with sweat. Glimpses of sun. At points no wind, and that’s when the sweat really poured off.

Finally arrived at the trail junction on the ridge line of Doe Knob. Tennessee is now on the left of the ridge, North Carolina on the right. It’ll be like this pretty much for the next several hundred miles. Beautiful carpet of wildflowers, delicate light pink things. Not a clue what they are.

Sometime ahead, sat down on a log and ate lunch. Had annoying flies for company. After, more ridge walking then down to Ekaneetlee Gap. Mollies Ridge In view ahead ahead. Grunted my way up and around the ridge, a long one for sure. Out of water now. Plugged on. Finally saw the stone shelter in the mist ahead. Yeah.

My old friend Shuckstack had nothing to show me today. Carey Kish photo.

My old friend Shuckstack had nothing to show me today. Carey Kish photo.

Scads of hikers here, place will be full tonight. Tarps across the front, fire going in fireplace, shelter very smoky. Great. Set up on a lower bunk. To spring, then to cook supper. Added tuna pouch to pasta primavera, good call. Food bags are up on the bear cables. It’s 6:30. Mist is thick outside again; it had been pretty sunny just a while ago.

A lot of chatter in the shelter. Hoping I can sleep. Thinking its time to settle in to the book. Derrick Knob Shelter, but first must climb over Rocky Top and Thunderhead. Good weather would be nice. We’ll see.

3,700 feet of climbing today, the biggest day yet for elevation gain. More so even than the day out of Wesser over Swim Bald and Cheoah Bald. Not sure if days get much bigger a la elevation gain. At least not till the Whites, and perhaps Maine.

Dreary afternoon at Mollies Ridge Shelter. Carey Kish photo.

Dreary afternoon at Mollies Ridge Shelter. Carey Kish photo.

Food bags on the bear cables, Mollies Ridge. Carey Kish photo.

Food bags on the bear cables, Mollies Ridge. Carey Kish photo.

 

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