Day 24: Last night in the Smokey Mountains

Appalachian Trail: Day #24

Tri Corner Knob Shelter –> Davenport Gap Shelter:  7.4 miles

Total AT miles: 237.0

Tonight we camp in our last shelter of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. This section proved to be my favorite so far; although, favorite is a very relative term. I tend to live immersed in the moment and love almost every minute as much as the last.

Before entering the Smokies, we were told we would hate it; that we would rush to exit the high mountains as fast as possible. Were the weather bad, this may have been true. Exposed ridges and camps above 5,000 feet could have been hell, even deadly.

Lucky for us, the weather held. We only had a bit of rain. Not enough to soak us. Just enough to add diversity and make for a couple interesting days walking barefoot and splashing through puddles. Lets face it. My shoes, smelling worse than days old roadkill, needed the bath anyway.

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Morning coffee in the shelter. Life is good!
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Most people vacate the shelters early and get to hiking. Us? We play music and dance!

We stop and take a break at a clearing with a view. The rain is holding off. The temperature is perfect for hiking. Mountain Goat finds a snail next to a puddle. Lunch?!

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Hiking through our last stretch of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park.
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Moss on an evergreen.

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Mountain Goat braiding My Shadow’s hair.

The trail in sections is muddy. Very muddy. Mountain Goat nearly looses her shoe. Flowers are in bloom though. Little white a purple ones that line the trail making it look like layers of fresh fallen snow.

The trail is super muddy and wet. Mountain Goat and me stop to brew some tea and dry our feet out. We hike the last few miles barefoot letting the mud ooze between our toes.

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The Davenport Gap shelter. It’s the last shelter of the Smokies.
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This shelter is blocked by chain to keep bears out. Many shelters here were chained off, but stupid people would feed bears through the chain links. Great idea right? Hungry bear outside and your trapped inside?
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Drying shoes by the fire. Careful. Someone burnt their shoes…
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Mountain Goat writing her nightly journal entry.
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Day 23: Icewater Spring Shelter to TriCorner Nob Shelter

Day #23

Icewater Spring Shelter –> Tri Corner Knob Shelter

12.1 Miles

222.2 Total AT Miles

Kodak here signing in from Damascus, Virginia 54 days, and 469 miles, into an Appalachian Trail thru-hike. The blog has fallen a bit behind, but I’m working to bring it up to date if the wifi here will cooperate. It’s spotty though I think it’ll do.

I arrived here two days ago and have been really out of sorts. I was lacking sleep, a condition caused by my stubborn refusal to use inflatable sleeping pads. Until last night that is. I finally caved trading my precious foam mat for an inflatable.

Weeks waking under-slept and stiff led to the decision. I spent thirty minutes yesterday laying on different mats on the floor of an outfitter before deciding on a Sea to Summit Ultra light mat.

Feeling exhausted from the previous nights toss-and-turn, I blew up the mat here at Woodchucks hostel and napped on a wooden bench. I woke feeling refreshed though still tired. I guess I’ve been sleeping worse than I thought!

Sleep was never a problem when pushing big miles. If your tired enough, you’ll sleep anywhere and on anything. The issue is: I haven’t been pushing big miles. Not even close! Our group enjoys a slow pace soaking in as many special moments as we can muster.

Anyway, I slept really well last night. I’ll need another night or two before I’m finally caught up, but a good nights sleep makes all the difference. I cannot wait for another.

The next ten posts or so will be mainly photographs. I began journaling again after Hot Springs so written words will resume shortly.

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Brewing coffee in the vestibule of my tent on a chilly morning in the Smokies.
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Dr. Kool-Aid, Shaggy, Bambi, Moonboots, (i forget! Sorry), and Owl kneeling in the front.
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Dr. Kool-Aid packing up his tent in the wind. It rained in the night and was so windy I was almost worried. I staked out my tent at every possible point though so I didn’t have any issues. Henry Shires at TarpTent added extra guy-out points around the perimeter of my tent allowing for a total of 8.
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A cloudy and windy day in the Smokies.
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My Shadow and Dr. Kool-Aid on a blue-blazed trail to an overlook. Heeeyyy!!!
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My Shadow and Dr. Kool-Aid celebrating the beauty of the mountains.

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Rocks and moss line the trail.
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A light rain makes the greens and grey glisten and glow.
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Rocky trails are easy walking allowing water to drain.
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The Smokies have been my favorite section thus far.
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An overlook along an exposed ridge. Luckily, the weather is holding. Thunderstorms are forecast.
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Fallen trees are everywhere here. Rocky soil and shallow-rooted evergreens are easily pushed over in the wind.
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The aftermath of an old landslide.
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Dr. Kool-Aid and My Shadow dressed for the dreary day. It hasn’t dampened our spirits however!

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Dr. Kool-Aid removes his jacket in the warm shelter and begins to steam. We all are as our damp clothes begin to dry.
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Wet packs hanging from the shelter wall.
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Handicap accessible toilets?!
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Shaggy in front of Tri Corner knob shelter. I thought they would be long gone, but they took refuge here from the rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 22: Double Spring Gap Shelter to Iceboater Spring Shelter

Day #22

Double Spring Gap Shelter –> Icewater Spring Shelter

13.4 miles

210.1 Total AT miles

A quick update while I hike from Erwin to Hampton. In six more days, I’ll hopefully have a solid wifi connection to upload some posts. The wifi here at Uncle Johnnies is almost unusable.

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Mountain Goat and My Shadow doing their morning workout. Sit-ups, pushups, and planks. Thought hiking would be enough??! Never!
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A beautiful privy in the Smokey mountains. They are actually handicap accessible. Usually. This one just need a ramp but it has the rails.
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A group gathers around Dr. Kool-Aid inquiring about our thru-hike.
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Dr. Kool-Aid answering questions for the circle of day hikers. What do you eat? Where do you sleep? Why?!? How?!?
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Golden boy dipping a loli pop into a tub of grape jelly. Only on the AT!
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If you  have to ask you may not want to know! An aluminum shovel, a hole, and toilet paper…
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A note from Cool Dad. They are  hiking much faster than us. We like to lay around and lounge in the sun and just hang out. We are out here living. Last one to Katahdin wins!
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Crossing a split-log bridge. Imagine this in bad weather.
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There are SOO many uprooted trees here in the Smokies. Hopefully, we don’t get caught in this kind of storm.
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Passage over a barbed wire fence.
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Whooo!!! We’ve been walking the border of Tennessee and North Carolina for a while. Feels good to see the proof though!
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Adventure Girl stopped us as we walked up the trail for some trail magic. Oranges, water, cucumber, and $20! Thanks Adventure Girl!
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Mountain Goat modeling one of the mandarins.

Day 19:

Day #19

Fontana Hilton Shelter –> Russell Field Shelter

14.5 miles

180.4 Total AT miles

We managed to tear ourselves away from the comforts of the Hilton and hit the trail after another shower. I can’t say enough how much I enjoy a hot shower. I just can’t take enough of them.

Mr. Kool-Aid is a bit slow in the morning (understatement! Sorry dude 🙂 so Cool Dad, Savage, and Canuck hit the trail before us with the intentions of meeting up at the Russell Field Shelter. It did not happen.

Mr. Kool-Aid and I take our time and enjoy every single second we can. We stood and watched a family of deer with one of the yearlings walking within a few feet of us. We climbed a fire-tower and made coffee at it’s base with a group of girls we met in town. It felt a bit like running a Starbucks with Mr. Kool-Aid boiling water while I ran the drip. Ahh, nothing like fresh coffee to bring people together.

We hiked with the girls then pushed past the shelter they stayed at to meet up with our friends but didn’t find them there. They kept going past the planned stop and it was way too late for us to catch up. Oh well.

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No Noro! has become our saying. It is so common the news was in town running a story on it. Wish us luck…

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Mountain Goat, My Shadow, and Finch atop a fire tower.
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Flower buds poking through the structure of the tower.
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Group coffee time!
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Mountain Goat writing down her email address.
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Mr. Kool-Aid working out a knot in his back. Painful.

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