I hiked in and around Smoky Mountain National Park Last May and neglected to post my progress. So here goes:
Day #0 – Back to the Smokies
May 12, 2022
So, it’s back to the Smokies for another trek into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. I drove from St Louis to Wesser, NC and the Nantahala Outdoor Center to begin my hike. The drive was long but the final stretch through the mountains south of GSMNP was a real treat. The road there is known as the Dragon’s Tail. This two lane road is a favorite for motorcyclists and winds through the forest until is ends near Fontana Dam. I eventually ended up at the NOC where I spent the night before beginning my hike. I met some section hikers for dinner and settled down for the night.
A person starts to live when he can live outside himself. – Albert Einstein
Day #1 – Out of Fontana Dam…
May 13, 2022
At 8:00 am I shuttled to Fontana Dam where I finished my hike out of GSMNP the previous April. The lake was beautiful in the morning light. It was clear, warm and humid. After walking along the lake for about a mile it was time to hike back up into the mountains. Over the next few miles, I climbed 2,000 ft in the humid air. Up, up, up the trail went for most of the day.
There were lots of stairs as the trail climbed to the top of the ridge. I met few hikers, including “Sticker-bush” who was section hiking. I told him about my plans to go into GSMNP after I reached the NOC and told him to look for me at Newfound Gap. (The only AT road crossing in the middle of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.)
I rolled into Cable Gap shelter in mid to late afternoon and decided to quit early. The shelter is set down in a hollow next to a stream that splits around the site. To my dismay, I learned about a small branch of the stream next to the privy when I stepped into it at 5 am. I lost my shoe in the mud; yuk! I asked another hiker later his opinion as to the worst shelter on the whole trail, he immediately replied, “Cable Gap.”
AT Thru-Hike Stats
Section Day #1 (5/13/22)
Start — Fontana Hilton (165.7)
End — Cable Gap Shelter (159.2)
Today’s mileage: 6.5
Total section miles: 6.5
Total miles on AT: 1023.1
Day #2 – Through the Mountains…
May 14, 2022
I woke early in the morning and put on one dry shoe and a muddy one. I was glad that my Altra Lone Peak trail runners dried quickly. After packing my tarp and hammock, I resumed the trek through the mountains. There was less climbing, but the trail still had sufficient ups and downs. The final descent to Stecoah Gap was incredibly steep. Along the trail, I noticed a large gray object in a tree with large eyes. A moment later a great horned owl flew away.
I spent the night at “A Cabin in the Woods”, a small hostel near Stecoah Gap. The weather the next day, called for thunderstorms in the afternoon when I was planning to be on top of Cheoah Bald. Hiking at over 5,000 ft on an open mountain top with lightning made my decision to change plans easy. I ended my section here and headed to Galtinburg, TN for day hiking in GSMNP over the next 5 days.
AT Thru-Hike Stats
Section Day #2 (5/14/22)
Start — Cable Gap Shelter (159.2)
End — Stecoah Gap (150.6)
Today’s mileage: 8.6
Total section miles: 15.1
Total miles on AT: 1031.7
I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done. – Buddha