I always look forward to hiking Wesser Bald. It is a moderate hike along the Appalachian Trail (AT) leaving from Tellico Gap. This year was even more special because I had Wessy with me. So Wessy got to hike Wesser Bald and she did great! We started off with a couple of dogs and four people behind us, and we quickly moved aside and let them pass.
The trail to the top is not wide. We kept running into dogs and hikers going up and coming down. No worries except there were few places where those coming down could pass without the dogs being close. Beware if you have your pup with you—no nose-to-nose—because you don’t know who is sweet and who is not. Wessy likes to hop up on the hillside and let people pass, but I’m not comfortable with that and I’ll tell you why later.
The trail has a steady elevation gain of about 1,000 feet.
I love the views in any season. I think I mentioned that the AT is narrow here. We hike up on the trail but usually go back on the old Jeep road that is a return access to Tellico Gap.
Finally, you come to a place that levels off and you wonder, “Am I on the ridge?” The answer is “Nope.” There’s more ups and you feel the gain a lot before coming to the bald.
There are a few water sources along this part of the trail. We came up on two people who needed water. The source by the AT shelter was not flowing. So, these hikers had to stop at this small stream for water. Of course, they run it through a filter before they drink it. A friend gave me a filter system, but I have yet to try it on the trail. I do filter tap water before drinking it. Again, notice the narrowness of the trail. Beyond the pack, is a drop off. Wessy is sitting on the hillside overlooking the trail.
It was just “summer” green. I had to keep a keen eye on the space in front and around me. Lots of snakes out this summer. We got past this part of the trail and sure enough, there was a Rattle Snake on the trail in front of us. It lifted it rattles and loudly shouted, “Back off.” Thus, the reason I continue to work with Wessy to heel beside me. Being young, she wants to skip ahead so I double down on giving her commands.
Once we got past the day hikers, we easily went on up the trail.
Here’s Anne posing once we got beyond the “snake encounter!”
Wessy on top of Wesser Bald, North Carolina. What a nice little achievement for this Little Brown Dog!
I asked Pat to go and stand under the tower, so you would have a “feel” of the size and also how the trees are now covering an area that years ago was a grassy bald.
Pat, Anne, and Wessy at the bottom of the Wesser Bald tower that once was a working fire lookout tower. This also once was a natural bald but the tree line has grown over recent years.
The view from the top of Wesser Bald tower offers some of the best 360 views in North Carolina. Today, a platform covers the top which was once a “tiny home” for Forest Service “lookouts.” They lived on top of the bald for months on end watching for forest fires. An adjoining cabin and pump house was once located atop the 4627 foot high bald. Before the early 1930’s, a simple wooden structure set atop the mountain. This was replaced in 1936 by the CCC with a sturdier 30′ steel tower, which was capped by a 14’x14′ live-in cab.
The USFS occupied the tower, which doubled as an emergency thru-hiker shelter. By the 1960’s, it was abandoned. Side note: In 1979, the first platform was set on fire and destroyed. Fourteen years later, it was rebuilt so hikers (day and thru) could once again view the mountains of Western North Carolina. In fact, it was the outcry from “thru hikers” that motivated the Forest Service to rebuild it.Â Today, a 20’x20′ viewing deck provides amazing views and a place hikers can take a break.
Today, there’s plenty of evidence around the tower where hikers have camped along the ridge and I guess you can see what is left of the bald with the grasses behind Pat and Wessy. Also, you see where hikers spend the night. There’s a fire pit!
I love these views. I think once you get these mountains in your soul, you keep returning for breaks in this crazy, crazy out-of-control world.
The climb to the top of the tower is easy, but if you have a thing about heights, narrow steps, and wooden platforms, you might have a harder time. Wessy wanted to climb to the top. In fact, she wanted to climb Albert Mountain fire tower two weeks ago, but I said no. I’m not worried about her going up or being on the top, coming down would be the problem. The sides to the old towers are enclosed with fencing. So, you won’t fall through.
Parting shot: plenty of all kinds of wild life along the AT. This little guy is having salad for lunch!