top of page
  • Writer's pictureRobert Moore

From Hot Springs to Erwin, TN

After nine days in the woods, Cornbread and I made it to lovely Hot Springs, NC - an iconic "Trail Town". The trail goes right down mainstreet and at any given time there are probably more hikers than townies. They have an amazing diner and the only grocery store for 20 miles is a Dollar General - the classic trail resupply store.

We spent three nights to recuperate and more importantly see my girls (minus Cristina who couldn't get out of military duty). It was great to see family again - and to see the dogs. Ate lots of good food and slept on real beds.

But all good things must end and we left after breakfast on Monday. It was a real struggle getting restarted. I was as homesick as I have been since being deployed. It wasn't the creature comforts of home - it was my loving family. I felt guilty as the pulled away - like I should be going home and being a father but I knew that I needed the trail to come completely home after 12 years.

So, we climbed out of the French Broad River valley back into the Apps and into the Cherokee National Forrest stretch. A remarkably unremarked section of the trail. Frankly, with the exception of Big Bald, I hadn't heard of any of it. But it follows several challenging and stunning ridges. One, named in honor of Howard McDonald, is an amazing 1.4 mile stretch of exposed granite ridge. Howard was a trail building master and this was his masterpiece. The trail zigzagged along the knife edge peak with shear cliffs on either side. The views were breathtaking to both the east and the west but one dared not look for too long while painstakingly negotiating Howard's handiwork of granite spiral stairways, narrow passages and hidden footholds. Each section was a stone brain teaser. Sometimes, you couldn't tell where the original mountain ended and Howard's genius began. It was like an exhausting, wonderful maze inside a 4,000 foot high playground.

And there are many other spectacular sections and the hiking was a little easier. We put in five long days but the miles were less painful and more solitary than the Smokies. It was a refreshing change. One morning, we even had our 7 am snack with a beautiful whitetail buck. After, we dropped our packs and were eating a snack he sauntered over the ridge and casually fed on tender briar shoots within 10 feet of us. These are not tame deer - they are wild animals. But I think he judged us so beat down that we were no threat to him or anything else for that matter.

I'll close on another wildlife story. Cornbread had been disappointed that he had missed two of my bald eagle sightings in Nantahala. So, this morning as we were dropping into Erwin, we skirted along the cliffs overlooking the Nollichucky river. We were still about 1,000' feet above the river and I was trying to find the railyard down below where they hanged the elephant a hundred years ago (another story - look it up). All of the sudden, Cornbread hollers, "bald eagle bleep bleep" (let's just say I thought Samual L Jackson was behind me). Startled , I turned around just in time to see a massive, majestic bald eagle, complete with a large fish in his talons headed straight for us! We must have been on his eating perch and he wasn't happy to see us - or smell us probably. But, before a fight broke out, he spun on a wingtip and gracefully (with just a touch of agitation) soared back across the river onto another bluff while we unsuccessfully fumbled for our phones. What a sight! All I could muster was a respectful, "Merica".

114 views9 comments

Recent Posts

See All

9 Comments


Cl Eagan
Cl Eagan
Apr 27

Great pic! Still cheering you on Rob and praying with you on this adventure. God bless you.

Like
Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Apr 27
Replying to

Thanks! Making progress. Soon be in VA.

Like

daleholden007
Apr 27

So many amazing things to see and experience through your eyes while Julie and I are envisioning all that you are sharing. I have no doubt seeing the kids (and dogs) was great minus Cristina for this recent visit, and how difficult it must have been to step back onto the trail. Know that we are praying for your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being as you take each step. Of course, I don't know if I could travel with someone named Cornbread - I would remain hungry all the time. 😀 We pray that you gain additional strength as you move forward with this proclamation, "Be strong and courageous. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.…

Like
Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Apr 27
Replying to

Thanks Dale - I have a little mantra that I pray as I’m climbing these impossible mountains. It usually goes like this:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me - huff puff - Thy rod and thy staff comfort me -huff puff…..followed by every other verse I have memorized until I arrive miraculously at the top of a 6,000 foot mountain. I’ll add this one to the mix.

Like

kennethwhite
Apr 27

Wow Rob! Hot Springs is a great area. 3 nights in a real bed??? I bet you didn't know what to do with yourself. So glad you had family time. Dad and the girls!!! That picture is worth framing. Please know I continue to pray for you and I continue to enjoy your writings. They illicit all kinds of visual images that makes me want to hop in the car, park on the side of the road and disappear into the woods on a scenic hike!!

Like
Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Apr 27
Replying to

Thanks Ken. It’s quite a blessing that I have received to be able to do this. I’m honored that you appreciate my rantings. They help me organize my recollections of a few days well spent.

Like

Chris Jolly
Chris Jolly
Apr 27

Rob I’ve hiked that area north of Hot Springs that you and Cornbread just hiked into. As you said a stone teaser for sure. You’re doing great.Thoroughly enjoy these updates. Proud of you.


Like
Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Apr 27
Replying to

Thanks Chris - we’re inching towards the Greyson Highlands. Prolly mid May. It would be great to see you and Terry….and the ponies.

Should be over Roan Mountain Monday.

Like

Cristina Moore
Cristina Moore
Apr 27

Can almost imagine the trail as you describe it. Missed you but was so thankful the girls convinced us that a three hour one way drive was not keeping them away from seeing their daddy! Grateful for the great Airbnb named Bailey and the second home it provided to all of you! Godspeed- we love and miss you.

Like
bottom of page