Day 27 – Friday, April 6
Sorry for the long delay in updating this blog, but I’m in Erwin, TN now and all is going great! Here’s what I’ve been up to since leaving NOC. Since my wife, Mary, is here in Erwin with me on my zero day, I’m able to use my computer and upload many more photos from my real camera onto my blog. So be prepared to enjoy some additional photos here and there.
I went from NOC to Fontana which is the south entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I hiked across Fontana Dam and on into the Smokies. I came out four days later with a whole new appreciation for these mountains. After spending almost all my life looking up at these mountains, I never thought they compared to the Rockies of the west. Boy have I’ve been wrong! After hiking across the tops of these mountains and looking at the incredible rock faces seen from the ridges, I can certainly say that they are just as beautiful and rugged as those of the west. The trail through the Smokies took me up and over the highest point on the Appalachian Trail, Clingmans Dome, at an elevation of 6,643 feet. All I’m sure about is the rest of the Appalachian Trail won’t be all down hill from there.
We made a quick trip down to Gatlinburg one afternoon for overnight stay, meal, and shower only having to make up 3.4 miles the next day to get back on track. That was a No Brainer!!
I took the side trail out to the summit of Mt. Cammerer lookout tower, doing my first twenty-mile day. You can hike all the side trails you want, but they don’t count in the everyday miles to Maine.
After leaving the Smoky Mountains, I arrived at the Standing Bear Hostel which was a pretty cool and very rustic place to stay for the night. It was the first time in my life that I used a washboard to clean my clothes.
From Standing Bear, I had a two day hike to Hot Springs. While in Hot Springs I stayed at Elmers Sunnybank Inn. Just a classic place…it’s an old Victorian home built in the 1840s. Elmer basically caters to thru hikers.
Since arriving in Erwin our good friends Green and Callie Faircloth have opened their home here in Erwin to me and a number of fellow thru hikers taking us on resupply stops and feeding us well along the way. Many thanks!!