I took two zero days in Gatlinburg, TN to avoid a storm. The days turned out to be beautiful. The next day I caught a shuttle with Chef and Super Wolf from the N.O.C in Gatlinburg back up to Clingmans Dome in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It stormed! The shuttle driver Kevins parting words were “No pain, no rain, no Maine”, we pushed through to Mt. Collins Shelter, three miles in. It rained hard all night. Hikers were rolling into the shelter all night, it was packed.
Woke up and hiked 7.5 miles to Icewater Springs Shelter. Crossed a popular tourist stop in The Smokies called Newfound Gap and there was trail magic. Trail angels Beth and Bernie from Florida were set up, hooking hikers up with food and sodas. The trail was filled with day hikers, when I got to the shelter I set up my tent outside and had a beautiful scenic view of the peaks on the N.C side of the National Park. The night turned cold reaching the lower 30′s.
Today was the last day in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Hiked 18 miles to a cool campsite by a creek.
Woke up and hiked 1 mile into Standing Bear Farm Hostel and took a “Nero” near zero day. Standing Bear Farm Hostel was fun!
A book of photos at The Standing Bear Farm Hostel of thru hiker on the summit of Mount Katahdin the end point of the A.T. This photo is of a friend Stefan “chops” Colosimo, who I use to work with at the Mountain Xpress news paper in Asheville.
Woke up tired and hiked 7 miles to Groundhog Creek Shelter. Snowbird Mountain was a tough hike but was an awesome bald with a great view. The temperature dropped low into the 20′s that night and we had an epic fire.
I left camp 10 am which is generally a pretty late start. Hiked up to a camp site some friends were staying and Chef, Light House, Croc and I decided to push on and night hike to Hot Springs. We arrived in Hot Springs, NC around 1am, everything in the town was closed including the police station. We had to stealth camp by railroad tracks. Hiked a total of 26 miles, this was the longest day so far.
Hot Springs is a small trail town, literally the trail runs right through the main street. I got my mail drop early and called my friend Jon Elliston up who lives in Asheville, NC. Jon generously drove an hour out of his way to Hot Springs to pick up Chef, Ranger Bill and I, to bring us to Asheville. Thank you Jon!
Had a great stay in Asheville! Thank you Jon, Joe, Adam, Kutty and Jeff for the help, hospitality and trail magic!