Sat, Mar 19 2022 - Hightower Gap to Springer Mountain and back (View Original Event Details)|
The rain had passed and it became cooler and breezy as the day went on. The rain had left the trail as muddy as I have seen it on a clear day. Hiking southbound, we were passing AT thru-hikers so we began counting. I remember getting up to 35 before giving up. The trail was crowded with day hikers, boy scout troops, and thru-hikers. The top of Springer had probably 30 people milling around the plaque.
On the return from Springer, we learned some history of the area around Hawk Mountain. Years ago, Jim had been one of the AT volunteers who helped relocate the AT around Hawk Mountain. He filled us in on the history. We saw where the trail originally went over Hawk Mountain and we heard the story about how the shelter on the top of Hawk Mountain was disassembled piece by piece, numbered, and rebuilt at the relocated trail lower on Hawk Mountain. We were shown the site of the relocated shelter. Later, the relocated shelter was removed and the present Hawk Moutain Shelter was built further off the AT.
We also had some laughs. On the return, as we approached Long Creek Falls, there was talk about Hickory Flats. I assumed Hickory Flats was a cleared area on the Benton McKaye trail about a half-mile beyond Long Creek Falls. I bragged that years ago I had spent the night under a tarp at Hickory Flats. Not thinking it was a big deal, I was surprised when the others became interested and began asking questions. Were you by yourself? "Yes", I answered. Weren't you scared? "No, it wasn't a big deal. I do this sort of thing a lot." Each of the others agreed that they would never do what I did. They looked at me like I was a little crazy. Later, as we turned away from Long Creek Falls, talk turned again to Hickory Flats and it became evident to me that Hickory Flats was not where I had camped. To correct the record, I told the group that I had been mistaken; I had not camped at Hickory Flats. That was when the group informed me that Hickory Flats was a remote cemetery located near the AT.