A 12 hour drive from my home is the most visited National Park in the country – The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This park is visited more than the Grand Canyon! I can see why, it is spectacular!
The Appalachian Trail runs right through the Smokies so of course I decided I must walk a little bit of the trail while I visited. The weather has been perfect for outdoor play.
The 360 degree view from Clingman’s Dome Tower is amazing. The hike up to the tower is at a 13 degree grade. It is steep! Clingman’s Dome is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail, so it was important for me to visit this place first. It was worth every staggering step and drop of sweat.
We encountered a few thru hikers at the tower, but I was too shy to approach them. I just stared and looked like a creeper. When we climbed up the tower an honest to goodness thru hiker took our picture for us. He was a military man, but again, I was too shy to ask many questions.
I had planned out a very short hike on the Appalachian Trail after hiking Clingman’s Dome. It was just 1.7 miles from Road Prong trail head to Newfound Gap. Easy. Dave dropped me off at the trail head and I posed for the obligatory first steps/first white blaze ever on the AT photos.
My boot hit the narrow trail and my heart skipped a beat. My adrenaline flooded into my body and all the sudden I became very nervous, anxious, excited, happy, overwhelmed, you name it, I felt it. I walked a few feet into the trail and saw my second white blaze. Realizing I should not be out of breath so soon, and why were my knees shaking? I stopped to check myself and my surroundings. My brain was still wrapping itself around the fact that I was on the AT. I took a deep breath of the mountain air, did a little spin in the middle of trail, looked up, looked down, to the left and to the right. Finally, I propelled myself forward on the trail easily, knowing Dave was waiting for me at the trail head at Newfound Gap. I told him to give me one hour.
The trail itself was in great shape. There were stairs built out of logs and you could see where some trees had fallen and they were recently cleared away from the path. Trail maintainers are heroes in my book! I gracefully tripped over a root or two, grateful for my hiking poles keeping me upright. There were magnificent little white flowers in bloom so it looked like it had snowed. I thought it looked like a fairy land!
There was an enclosure that I had to hike over. It was a fenced area protecting the beech tree from the invasive wild boar. I was really, really hoping I didn’t encounter a crazy wild pig! However, this post would have been more interesting if I had!
When the end of the hike was approaching I saw Dave hiking out towards me. He’s a worrier. It took me about 45 minutes because of all the stopping to photograph and look around. It was nice to complete a small, very manageable, portion of the trail. I would love to do more, but that will have to wait.
See Dave, I didn’t get lost!