April 28, 2017
Had a decent night’s sleep but should’ve been more rested for this day. Holy dehydration, Batman!
Things started off well enough: A few bridge crossings, some nice rock scrambling and crevice trekking… There was a gorgeous waterfall followed by some canyon wall hugging next to the creek (river?). All of this made for a great, nature-appreciating day! I didn’t even mind all of the spider webs I was walking through after passing Cur Dog (from the previous night’s hostel). No, the trouble started after spotting Watauga Lake in the distance…
We passed by a hiker heading southbound during a slackpack (having someone, typically a hostel worker, drive you up the trail and then you hike back to your lodgings, but without your full pack) who told us that there would be a detour around part of the lake because the trail was flooded. We would have to do a bit over a mile on the road. Soon after running into her, I spied the lake and the dam. I didn’t know it at the time, but that lake is HUGE!
The lake has had a bit of a bear problem so there was no camping, picnicking, or loitering allowed for the next 4 miles. It was a long and hot hike around the contour of the lake. Lunchtime had passed and we were hungry but had to keep hiking. I thought the ducks looked rather tasty.
We finally reached Watauga Dam after getting through the bear area and you know what? It was actually pretty impressive. All the work that went into the construction could be seen in the very mountain sides. We were so hungry that we hiked up the service road a ways before finding the first bit of shade to crawl under to eat. A few minutes later an alarm began to blare in the distance. Odd, but maybe a test.
A few minutes later, a second one began. Then, possibly a third.
It was hard to tell with the echoes.
Finally, a worker drove by looking very unconcerned and after 20-30 minutes, the alarms finally stopped.
We were ill-prepared for the last leg of our journey. Whilst quite hot and hungry, we decided to forego our last water chance for nearly 8 miles! What a blunder! It was the hottest point in the day and we both ran out of water before reaching a spring. Better care will be taken in the future.
We finally made it to our camp when who should appear? Mr Mojo Rising himself! We hung out but the wind and insects proved to be too great of a force. Time to get some rest.