Monday, June 15, 2009
The end of the Smokies
Since the last post we've been up to the highest point on the trail, Clingman's Dome and since, while there, I (Matt) was the tallest person around there was about an hour when I had the highest elevation of anyone on the whole Appalachian Trail!
Clingman's Dome is very good at faking out hikers. Hiking up the hill you think, "I'm here this must be it!" only to come over the hill and realize that there is a larger one behind it (which happened more than once).
There is a road that leads up to Clingman's and a beautiful viewing tower so lots of families were up there enjoying the view. Most people, though, don't seem to know that the A.T. cuts through there or are not sure what the A.T. is and must be surprised to meet so many scruffy, dirty, smelly people at the lookout.
One family started hiking down the A.T. and asked some friends of ours, "How far does this trail go?" They were quite surprised to hear that it is "200 miles the way you are going and a little under 2000 miles the other way."
Sadly, as we summited the hill a fog rolled in so our view was a little limited.
With the weather turning sour and Megan and Bryan needing to pick up their dogs and leave the Smokies we decided to fast forward ahead to Gatlinburg and jump back on to the trail just outside Great Smokey Mountain National Park. This would give us more freedom too as we would not be forced to camp at shelters (although we like to as it means that we don't have to rig up our own bear bag system).
We met a fantastic family on a biking vacation who were heading down to Gatlinburg who kindly offered us a ride. Before we reached the parking lot, one of the people that we are hiking with realized that his girlfriend had left her trekking poles on top of the tower, so he sprinted back up the 1/2 mile of hill. Upon reaching the tower he was panting hard and a woman commented to him, "Well, somebody isn't in very good shape." HA!!