Day 11 – Cold Spring Gap campsite to the NOC

There are a lot of AT sayings. One of them is “no rain, no Maine”, meaning if you don’t hike in the rain you’ll never make it to Maine. I earned my badge for that today. The rain started about 3 am. And while it did pause a few times through the day, the pauses were brief.

Foggy trail

I woke up around 7:30 and was out of camp a little before 8:30. A new record for me when eating breakfast. There was only one big climb today and it was in the first half of the 11.3 total miles for the day. I ran into a couple attempting a through hike from Switzerland at the base of the climb. They followed me up for a bit but I lost them about half way up. While the rain wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, it did help make the ground a little softer, so my feet didn’t bother me at all today.

I was to the top of Wesser bald around 11. I skipped climbing the tower since the mountain was totally socked in.

The fire tower on top of Wesser Bald

I started my descent. A little ways down I ran into another hiker who had left the nearby shelter to get water. He said the weather was supposed to get pretty nasty around 2:00. “Perfect!”, I thought, “I have 6 miles to go, mostly down hill and 3 hours to get there before the weather. Should be easy!” Well the trail was there to teach me something again.

The first couple miles of the descent were some of the most technical I’ve run into so far. There were a few spine walks and then some minor bouldering. Would have been fine in good weather. Was a little challenging in 25 mph wind and rain. No pics. Was trying to stay attached to the mountain 😝.

The next couple miles had more blow downs than the entire trail so far. I think some of them might have been from the storm coming in last night (side note: best call I made on camp site selection so far was last night when I decided to camp off the ridge – the wind howled up there all night. Another win for the hammock). The rain did let up a little though so I snapped a few pics.

One does not simply walk into Mordor
Sometimes it’s like you’re on another planet

The rain picked up a lot the last couple miles but by this point the trail was way going and I couldn’t really get any wetter (shout out to my light heart gear rain jacket – it didn’t wet out at all!). I rolled into the NOC at 1:58. Nothing like a storm to set a new pace record. Of course that storm never came 🤦. It kept raining at essentially the same pace the rest of the day. I guess I fell victim to the first bit of trail weather news.

Check in for the rooms wasn’t until 3 so I headed over to the restaurant for some late lunch. Everything on the menu looked good 😊. I ended up getting a local Amber beer, a cup of chili and a chicken sandwich. I wanted to get some veggies, but just couldn’t make it happen.


I was still wet from the trail and started to shiver a little in the restaurant AC. I finished lunch a little after 3 and went back to check in. I got my key and a map and headed to my room. I think the Around the Bend might have spoiled me a bit. The NOC base camp is a little more…spartan…and…well used. This is just part of the hiker experience.

My humble abode for the night.

I unpacked bag and hung up the things that needed to dry. I grabbed all my clothes and headed to the laundry. Wait, you must be thinking “what were you wearing if you took all your clothes to the laundry”. Simple: my (nontransparent – checked before I left!) wind pants and my rain jacket. Another part of the AT experience. After a couple hours and the dryer eating my money a few times, I had clean clothes. Somewhere while all that was happening I gave the NPS $40 and printed out my pass for the smokies. Then I rented a towel (another $5 – another part of the AT experience) and took at least a 20 min hot shower. It. Was. Life. Changing.

I ran out of time to get everything done on my list so I’ll be having breakfast in the morning at the restaurant and then doing a resupply before setting out on a slightly more than 10 mile day…with nearly a mile of elevation gain 😣.






8 responses to “Day 11 – Cold Spring Gap campsite to the NOC”

  1. Alan Pickett Avatar
    Alan Pickett

    I have to say something, or at least shout out about your stay at Cold Spring since I’m from Cold Spring, Kentucky, (near Cincinnati). I am still walking alongside you every step of the way. I have done most of the AT in the Smokies, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    1. Chris Avatar

      Thanks Alan. Should start on the smokies on Friday.

  2. Brian McGinnis Avatar
    Brian McGinnis

    Hey Chris,
    Thanks for sharing your adventure and pictures. It looks and sounds like a great adventure.
    Stay safe,

    1. Chris Avatar

      Thanks Brian!

  3. Heather Johnson Avatar
    Heather Johnson

    Hey Chris, remember I told you a friend of mine has hiked that trail (and others), but also helps maintain the trails within the area around his place in TN? He posted how the storms Monday night have closed a bunch of trails and even camping areas and roads due to all of the downed trees. Stay safe!!!

    He’s been working on the trails in NC lately, so if you happen to run into a guy with the trail name of OX, that’s him. Highly unlikely, but just in case.

    1. Chris Avatar

      Yeah 441 is closed but hope it’s open by the time I get there. AT seems open from what I can tell. Storms have been bad – barely got off the mountain yesterday!

  4. Mary Ann Weiss Avatar
    Mary Ann Weiss

    Yeah , Chris! We’re so proud of you.
    Stay safe and Happy Easter.
    🌷🍭🧗🏼‍♂️— eggs? Bunnies? 🐰

  5. James Melone Avatar
    James Melone

    I appreciate all the photos!

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