Springer Mt - Neels Gap
This trip was first inspired in 1980. We had been to a John Denver concert the day before in Columbia SC, then we headed off on a camping trip in the Smokies. It started to rain and we were looking through a newspaper we saw that John Denver was on his way to Atlanta to do another concert so we decided to head out and go see another concert. We drove through the Smokies and along the way we stopped at Walasi-Yi Center on the Appalachain Trail...we voiced the opinion that we would eventually like to hike on this trail.....14 years later we DID... so your dreams are on the way to being fulfilled-- just give it a little time
Sondra Hickman June 17, 1995
June 2, 1995 Friday
The Trip is almost at hand. My pack is 28 pounds and feels heavier. ITS great to have 3 of us going we can share the weight in our packs. We've been having lots of rain and thunder storms. It's very scary. I think about Mom being left behind and I know that she wants to go. Age has stopped her body, but not her spirit.
Marsha arrives tomorrow at noon. Emma flew in and has been here since Wednesday and we leave on Sunday morning the 4th. An air of excitement is in the pit of my stomach. Im frightened of the unknown thats waiting. Its going to be a physical challenge and I wonder if Im ready.
Sat June 3, 1995
We have been packing and repacking our packs. They are heavy no matter how we pack them! We go over everything again and again to make sure we're not forgetting anything or bringing something we dont really need.
(Some things are being brought that we really dont need, but we dont know this yet. things are being left behind that we will wish for later!)
Sun June 4, 1995
We are ready to leave about 20 minutes past 9 in the morn. The family we are leaving behind are wondering why we are doing this. They are glad we are going and wondering what in the hell for? They help us to load our packs in the Bronco and we wave BYE. Mom swiftly leaves and i know she is crying, just becasue I know.
We are hoping that we havent forgotten something important. I have left my cheese in the fridge, but I dont know this yet. I will find this out 2 days later. The drive is exciting and we chatter and laugh. We start to talk about Mom and marsha cires silently, but I know what she is feeling, becuase I feel it too. I cry, also silently.
We made a deviation from our original travel route to one that worked out to be much better for making our 3 o'clock appointment with Wes at Bryon Reece Memorial parking area.
When we arrived at the Walasi-Yi cneter we realized this was theplace we had seen 14 years earlier which had inspired this trip. We pulled in and looked at it then porceeded. the parking area was just down the road.
We arrived at exactly 3 pm. Wes was not there, but arrived a few minutes later as pormised. HE intorduced himself and his wife Dixie. They were a very friendly couple and let me sit in front to avoid car sickness, which I really appreciated.
Emma asked for a bathroom stop if possible and Wes said that we could stop at Walasi-Yi Center. We drove there and it was then I realized I had left my money pouch in the Bronco back at the parking area. When we got back in Wes's van I asked him if he would kill me if I said i had to go back to the car. He said it depended on what I had left behind. I replied that it was my money. He smiled very big and said yes we will go back for that. I joked and asked if he would charge me more for that. So we went back for my money. I had also left my Mt. Dew which I had planned to drink at the lodge, but i didnt know this till later!
OUR adventure is only beginning, before we make it to the trail head....we have to save someone's life-our story continues on tab marked:
The Mileage and Altitude Chart
The path we intend to follow