Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On to Gatlinburg!

We said goodbye to everyone at the Mt. Collins Shelter, took a quick photo of Peeper, and made like a bunny, hopping down the 4.3 miles to Gatlinburg (and burgers, pizza, fries) as fast as we could. The trail was a bit more down than up, which was good. I re-injured an old strained back muscle on the long climb out of the NOC, but learned a hard lesson, and left behind any food I did not absolutely need. We had been getting ahead of schedule on our miles, and so kept carrying more and more food. Since mine is gluten-free, and harder to replace, I hated to leave it, but too much weight had caused my injury, so I left it in a hiker box doe other hikers. There are hiker boxes at all of the hotels and hostels, even post offices and outfitters along the trail. If you don't need something, you leave it, and she you get off the trail, you usually go through it to see if there is something you can use. I usually look for shampoo and conditioner.
Anyway, the reason I told about the back muscle, is for the past 3 days I have hiked with my left trekking pole tied to my pack, which means I have had to be really careful with my balance, which means I'm moving a bit slower. However, I made record time flying into Gatlinburg. Amazing what the promise of a hot shower and good food. An do for you!
We were going to find a way into town from Newfound Gap (they run regular buses), but we got off the trail only to find a sweet couple from Florida providing trail magic out of their pickup camper. There was about eight thru- hikers gathered around, and smiles all around! The B Team, Bernie and Beth, had filled up at Sam's before coming here, and had been parked at the gap providing trail magic for each day of there vacation. They had everything a hiker could possibly want - drinks on ice, chips, sandwich fixings, apples, oranges, Starbucks instant coffee, protein bars. No one left hungry, and the ones that were not heading into Gatlinburg, but continuing on the trail, left with full packs. Sweet folks! They were heading back into Gatlinburg, and so Keith and I and Swamprat and Stingray all piled our packs in, packed ourselves in with them and the snacks, and headed into Gatlinburg. We are all in our fifties, and all agreed the last time we traveled in the back of a truck, we were probably kids. We had a lot of good laughs along the way. The park is crowded with spring breakers. We checked into the Bearskin Lodge, which is right above a river, and we are waiting for our room to be cleaned right now. It is supposed to storm the next day or two, so we feel really fortunate to be under a roof once again.
The trail today had huge trees that had blown over, and the last pic is us in front of the roots of one of those. The trail maintenance crews sure did have their work cut out for them. These trees are huge!

- Steady and F100

Location:Gatlinburg, TN

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