Appalachian Trail, Beautiful Colors and Bears!

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Excellent trip so far.  Since we were staying the first night at Smokemont we stuck on 40 through Davenport Gap and got off on 276.  Once we hit 19 I figured we would just have to fight through the traffic in Cherokee to get into the park. Instead, we got on the Blueridge Parkway and sailed right in.  Sweet!  Beautiful views along the way and traffic was light.  Dropped us out just east of Smokemont.  Setup camp and walked back to Chasteen Creek Cascades.  Not the torrent it was when Deep Woods and I were there in 2013 but still very nice.  Colors have been amazing!  Like the mountains are on fire. Bob F. from work was spot on about the timing.

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Sunrise on Clingmans Dome

Headed up to Clingman’s Dome Saturday AM, made the trek up to the base of the tower and got on the AT.  Hike was great.  This is a fantastic stretch of the trail, moving in and out of the conifers with great views from either side of the ridge.  Skies were overcast all day…the weather was definitely turning over and the forecast for later in the week was supposed to be crappy.   So far so good though.  Stopped off at Double Spring Gap shelter for a snack and saw a couple of deer then hiked to Siler’s.

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There was a young thru-hiking couple already there.  They were south – bound and are now just 200 miles from finishing the whole AT.  One interesting thing about their journey was that one of them actually hiked for a while with Bismarck, the guy just recently picked up by the FBI.  He had been living on the AT the last several years after embezzling a few million from the firm he worked for.

Neon65,  a 65 yr old orthodontist section hiking the AT came in next.  She started at Fontana Dam a few days earlier.  She’s now finished the same 240 mile stretch as Deep Woods and I and will be picking up at Standing Bear Farm next spring just like us so we stand a good chance of running into her again. Fascinating woman who has traveled to every continent.

Three guys from North Carolina came in next.   They do a 3 or 4 night hike in the park each year.  Last to come in was Terra (yes, its spelled Terra) from Minnesota.  She started her hike a couple days earlier at Cades Cove and spent the previous two nights at Mollies Ridge and Spence Field shelters. She’s got a cool job: she’s a cycling tour guide for Trek Travel.  She leads bicycling tours in the US and Europe.

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Neon65 and Terra

Rained a bit overnight. Temps stayed above 40.  Played tag with Terra on the hike back to Clingman’s Dome, stopping for lunch and a break or two while we talked with her.  Got back to the van and headed for the resort.

The crowds and traffic haven’t been near as bad as I thought they would be…maybe because the weather is turning crappy.  So we decided to take the chance and head to Cades Cove.  Light rain on and off throughout the day but we did get to see some bears.  That was cool.

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Little River

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Weather is bad today (Tuesday).  Moderate rain with gale force winds.  Terra was to be on the Boulevard heading for LeConte but has decided against that (thankfully!  Not a good place to be in winds like that) and is backtracking to Newfound Gap.  We’ll pick her up,  get some hot food in her belly and see her off.

Hopefully Wednesday and Thursday will be decent.  Thursday is supposed to be clear so maybe we’ll head to Greenbrier.  After tomorrow’s winds there’s probably not going to be a single leaf left on a tree so maybe we’ll get to see some bears. Crossing our fingers.  And hopefully we’ll get some better pics up soon.  Just haven’t had time to sift through them.

More to come …

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