When I left Gatlinburg, it was still quite cold. The sun was shining brightly with not a cloud in the sky. When the shuttle dropped me off at Clingman’s Dome, it was painful to have any exposed skin. I kept all of my layers on, including my buff and knit cap, all day due to the cold temps. There were parts of the trail that were ice.
I slipped and fell at one point. I landed on my knee, and my trekking pole went underneath my shin. My trekking pole bent badly. Trekking poles are important to a hiker. They become like a third set of appendages. I was worried they wouldn’t make it until I could get some new ones. I use cheap Walmart Specials, but they work just fine for me. Last hike, they went at least 1800 miles with me before I had to replace them!
I had people coming up to to me from behind asking me if I knew my poles were bent! Yes, my knee and shin were miraculously okay!
I contacted Bud to see if he could get a new one for me, since I didn’t know when I would be able to get to a Walmart. I just need to let you all know, at this point, how important a thru-hiker’s ‘support person’ is. I could not do this without Bud’s support; not only for the physical things he does like getting my mail drops sent at the right time (and running to Walmart for new trekking poles) but also the mental and emotional support. Most importantly, I know Bud is praying for me, too. Bud went to Walmart, bought a new trekking pole, and had it in the mail that very next day after I called him. We are a team. I couldn’t do this hike without him.
When I made it to my shelter, hikers were sitting out in the sun. In the shade, it was too cold to just sit. Someone set up their tent, so I set mine up, too.
When I awakened in the morning, frost was covering everything. I debated on whether to start walking to warm up, or do coffee and oatmeal to warm up. I always feel better after eating, so coffee and oatmeal won out.
I continued to see ice on the trail, but this day was much warmer as I entered lower altitudes. It’s a shame that thru hikers feel the need to race through the Smokies, because they are absolutely gorgeous! If I was going to do a section of the AT again, I’d probably choose the Smokies.
The Smokies are full of conifers and evergreens and everything is moss covered. It reminds me of a medieval forest. There are also such gorgeous views. I know y’all are probably tired of seeing mountainscapes, but I never grow tired of them. I really wish I could get some drone footage so you could get a sense of the exhilaration of being up that high. The pics don’t do it justice!
I raced out of the Smokies and did my longest day so far this hike. 18.4 miles. I pushed hard to get to Standing Bear Hostel. It was hot that day. I wore a sleeveless shirt and no leggings under my skirt. It was a perfect Spring day. I wanted a shower, a soda, and a microwave cheeseburger at the Standing Bear Hostel. They were out of cheeseburgers, so I had to settle for frozen pizza. I had stayed at this hostel before, so I knew what to expect. This was not one of my favorites, but I was desperate.
When I arrived, Special Ed and Chainsaw were there. It’s always nice to see friendly faces.
There is something that happens when you put in big miles. I don’t know if it is dehydration or low blood sugar, but I could hardly think or put a sentence together. One hostel owner referred to it as being ‘trail drunk’ so I guess it’s a ‘thing’ out here. Anyway, I was so sore, thirsty, hungry and tired. It was just a quick overnight stay, but it was both sad and a relief that I was out of the Smokies.
I’m so tired. Arkansas Traveler has possessed me at times and has pushed me to her previous ‘gotta get there’ pace. It is really taking a toll on me, and I’m not handling this hike as well as I was at this point last time.
I am again off the trail due to snow in the forecast. There will be at least one more blog post, and it will probably be tomorrow.
Until next time..