View Full Version : Trail Magic....the hard way

Cay Man
05-26-2011, 01:20
So I was hiking from Hot Springs to Erwin a couple of weeks ago. Stayed at the Little Laurel Shelter. Met some other hikers staying there and the next day got up and going and 1 of them tells me about this yellow blaze about 2 miles up the trail that might be worth taking. It was the Jerry Miller trail that cut off 1/10 mile from the AT but was said to be easier on the knees. Whoa. Count me in.

So we take this trail. Suppose to be on it for 1.5 miles and after awhile I think we have gone too far. We missed the cutoff. And by a lot. We just kept going. Turns out we went about 5.5 miles. The Jerry Miller trail dumped out into a "gap" with a parking area.

We crossed a bridge over a big creek. I saw one of those glass plated information centers, 2 cars, a pickup truck, a motor home, a hanging tarp, a golf cart, and 2 guys about 50-55 years old dressed in full camo outfits. So I asked one of them "excuse me sir, but could you tell me where in the heck I am".

He said "Where do you want to be". I told him I was looking for the AT.

"Well h**l man, that about 7 miles that way and there is no way you can there from here".

"Well according to that map over there in that little information center, there is a trail leading up to the AT from the next parking area".

They looked at each other, argued a bit and finally agreed there was a trail nearby leading up to the AT. I personally lost motivation for the day. It rained all friggin day and looked like more on the way. I inquired into a ride possibility up to Sam's Gap which adjoined the AT and was about 10 miles away.

"No, not today. We have been drinking all day and I am not going to jail for you or anyone else".

Sure. That made sense to me.

"You are welcome to setup camp and someone can take you tomorrow. Our boys are off fishin and they'll be back shortly. It’s going to be rainin anyway. The women will be here later today.

Not sure what that meant, but I decided to hang out for awhile. The other guy I was with wanted to push on. He was suppose to go out of the parking area and turn left to pick up the side trail back up to the AT. He turned right. These guys saw his goof and we yelled at him, but he kept going.

These guys offered me a Sprite. I declined. They asked if I wanted a stronger drink and they pull out a mason jar from the back of the pickup. Whoa. That stuff was strong, but pretty good actually.

Turns out the women that was coming was one of these guys wives and his daughter. I asked if his wife could give me a ride up to Sam’s Gap. He explained he didn’t know me and cell phones don’t work out here and he was not going to put his smoking hot wife in that kind of danger.

Sure. That made sense to me, too.

Then it started pouring raining. I went to stand under the overhang of the Information Center. His wife arrived with a brand new gas grill and about 10 minutes later one of the sons came over and invited me under their tarp.

I told the guy I didn’t mean to impose. He said “If you were imposing, I would ask you to leave.”

Well we stood there for about 2 hours just chit chatting under the tarp in the pouring rain sipping from his mason jar and keeping warm with the gas grill a blazin. He finally asked if I liked “stripers”. “Huh?”. “White stripers?” That’s what we are having for dinner and I was welcome to join them.

By that time it was about 5pm. I needed a plan to get to the trail. I told him I wasn’t staying and was going to walk out to the road about 1.5 miles away and hitch a ride. He said his wife was leaving and she would give me a ride. Obviously grateful, I said I would sit the back and be quiet as a door mouse.
He said “ The h**l you will. You sit in the front”. He turned to his daughter and said “get my gun out of the glovebox and if he tries anything, just shoot him.”

OOOk. The ride was fine. They actually took me Hot Springs because Sam’s Gap was out of the way and she has heading to Marshall. I took the ride and then a shuttle the next day up to Sam’s Gap.

Despite everything that happened, they truly were very nice people. I tried to pay the wife for the ride to Hot Springs, but she would not take a dime. That is just the kind of people they were.


05-26-2011, 05:03
Awesome adventure. A little scarry but that's the way adventures are. Rock on.

05-26-2011, 07:58
you were trying to save 1/10th of a mile?

05-26-2011, 08:57
you were trying to save 1/10th of a mile?

I think he was trying to save his knees...at least that what I got from teh set up. Of course reading a few lines of text at a time (one of those old speed reading tricks) I kept seeing strippers not stripers and thought it was going to be a dear penthouse letter...had to read it all just out of curiosity.

05-26-2011, 09:04
Good story.
Most of those people are really nice and helpful.... but as you witnessed, they are in control and make it clear that they won't put up with any crap. I guess they watch TV too and see what goes on in some of the bad cities. They were probably wondering if you were one of the bad guys. lol.... and not taking any chances.

I got my truck stuck in the sand one time on an old remote forest road and after working unsuccessfully to get it out, this scary looking guy (looked like he lived in the woods) carrying a rifle walks up. I'm thinking, I'm dead now.
Turns out the guy was really nice and helped me get the truck out. I even offered him a few bucks for the help but he didn't want it.
Over time, you realize most of these folks are really good human beings, not escaped convicts that first come to mind when you see them. :)

Pedaling Fool
05-26-2011, 09:05
I'm sure I'd have an opinion here, but I'm just too lazy to read the op.

medic mullins
05-26-2011, 09:33
Awsome trail magic

gotta love it when they hand you a jar and say this will warm your bones

05-26-2011, 12:03
I'm sure I'd have an opinion here, but I'm just too lazy to read the op.

ha ha can I steal that one? :D

Tennessee Viking
05-26-2011, 12:17
Got to love the Big Creek area. Watch out for banjo music.

I think you got the wrong info. You were probably wanting to take the Bad Weather route. It avoids the exposed trail. Jerry Miller takes you all the way down the mountain.

If you continued up the road from Jerry Miller to a backcountry parking area just off the road, there is Fork Ridge/Big Creek trail. It would have taken you back up to Jerry Cabin.

There is another trail (Green Ridge trail???) in the area that would have taken you up to the Shelton Graves as well.

05-26-2011, 12:31
Glad you had fun. Not sure how you count those miles you list as 400 so far. They have these really neat things available from the ATC called trail maps. Most of them also show nearby areas. I've never been good at begging for rides myself.

John B
05-26-2011, 12:40
That's a funny story! Ha! :banana

05-26-2011, 12:46
Was his wife really smoking hot?

05-26-2011, 12:53
Great story! I've hiked the Jerry Miller Trail a few times and know exactly where you're talking about. Also, as Tennessee Viking mentioned you could have also walked up the Fork Ridge Trail and came out about .2 miles from Jerry's Cabin shelter.

Why didn't ya'll just walk back up to the Jerry Miller Trail and get back on the AT where you got off? It's actually about 4.5 miles at the most.

Cay Man
05-26-2011, 15:38
you were trying to save 1/10th of a mile?

Saving the knees was the goal here. I really didn't care if it was any longer or shorter.

Cay Man
05-26-2011, 15:47
Glad you had fun. Not sure how you count those miles you list as 400 so far. They have these really neat things available from the ATC called trail maps. Most of them also show nearby areas. I've never been good at begging for rides myself.

The beauty of section hiking is that it does not have to be contiguous. To Erwin it is about 330 miles. Last fall, a buddy and I hiked most of the Shenendoah.

Cay Man
05-26-2011, 21:58
Was his wife really smoking hot?

Yes! Very nice lady, too.

05-28-2011, 00:43
Cool story bro!