Can I really say quiet? May be not. Can I say, the Smokies are awesome? May be not? What I can say is, I'm getting there. I crossed over the 200 mile mark some time before Clingman's Dome. The view I can say is spectacular, with imagination. What I can say is, embrace the suck. I am now only 1972 miles away from Katahdin.
This is a muli-day entry.
Day one was out run the storm and get to Mollies Ridge shelter. Once I get there, it filled up with many others who were doing the same. That day I did see 4 bears scamper into the woods, a few boar, and numerous birds. I climbed out of Fontana, one of the hardest climbs on the AT. The forest, mystical in glory at every step.
Day two, began with listening to bad weather pour into the region. The rain beating its drum on the tin roof made for getting good sleep mixed with the pondering of how far to go that day. Well I got off to a good start and made better time. I came in at 19 miles as I finished at Double Springs. Every section I could not help but see the vibrant greens of the forest. This region technically is a rain forest, vibrant, lively, dense. I crossed over two areas a few weekenders described as dangerous, bald, and rocky. I must be on a different trail, I didn't see any of that, only mist swept views.
One thing I like about the Smokies is one must stay at designated places. This keeps the ridges, flats, and every other tentable space clean and good looking. The shelters however are fairly trashed. I will say thru-hikers are some of the cleanest people I know. They pick up after other, clean areas, and make good. A ridge runner commented that this year he hadn't seen the shelters taken well care of by campers, thru-hikers are a different breed keeping things good.
Day three is about moving. The day began much like the day before, suck. I missed good views of the Dome. The wind kept moving clouds around and then the trail did not provide any clearings. I stopped by Ice Springs just for a moment. I paused just long enough for the weather to change. I sheltered there as the weather moved back to suck. I had the strength to move on but, wet feet made the call to stay.
I bucket washed the socks. Yes, I carry a bucket, 2 gallons, 1 ounce, and worth it weight every time from scooping water to cleaning. The socks may not be dry by morn, at least my feet are now.
Others hiked in and finding a full shelter. There is a growing tent city.
Day 4 of the Smokies began with the wind quieting down. I dragged my feet in getting out, not wanting to stuff them into cold wet socks again. I really just want to call the Smokies the Suckies as the weather's been less then ideal. Today, however, it broke. I made my way through Charlie's Bunion, a rocky out crop. It's a rare thing for me to get views and indeed worth while. I wish the other days were as nice. I pressed on past several shelters and made it a 20 mile day. As I rolled in my feet were feeling good less the wet socks.
Quiet? Only in the route that I haven't been online for a week. This week is definitely not quiet. I've learned to embrace the suck. I've learned I can keep going when the weather would keep me indoors. I have enjoyed the media break, no e-mail, no news, no social media. This is the first blog I've written all week.
A fire crackles a little warmth as the temp drops outside. The Smokies' shelters all are double layer with a fire place. This is also the first shelter I haven't been over crowded in for a week. My shoes are drying out finally.
Day 5 will be an exit day. I plan to nero at Standing Bear Hostel. Laundry, a hot shower, and rethinking my food supply are all on the list to do.
Day 5, actual. Burr last night was cold, clear sky, and a little wind. Only 5 of us were at the shelter. I didn't want to stuff my feet into adobe hard shoes. I chose to detour to Mnt Cammerer Fire Tower, an old stone buttress on a mountain top, 1/2 mile off the AT. This is my moment of Smokies glory, 360 views, light clouds, and chilly. When I descended, I came upon trail magic of lunch at the Pigeon River bridge. My luck changed my last day.
I am officially out of the Suckies err Smokies. The Smokies are beauty under the misty rain that it is known for. Literally one needs to look a little under the forest canopy at all the life. The Smokies were ducky for me as my feet were wet most the time. Wet feet equals an unhappy hiker. My feet are my life right now.
Before I headed out I joked this hike would put me in places my comfort zone wouldn't allow. The Smokies defined new moments of suck and I can say my comfort zone is expanded.
Hike on. Hike smartly.