We made it through the Smokies! This was our longest section without resupply so far, and we did our biggest mileage too. We manned up and hiked a 14 mile day in the rain, and hiked our first 16 in spite of soggy gear. The park was absolutely beautiful, with several different landscapes to walk through, but I’m honestly just glad to be through it. Because the park is so heavily trafficked the park service imposes a lot of restrictions and limitations on hikers, which made logistics a bit more difficult than usual, and limited our mileage options.
On another note, my 3.5 years working in the REI footwear department has trained me with an unexpected but useful skill. I’m able to recognize 60-75% of shoe models that hikers wear out here, and because of my familiarity with the tread patterns, I can track fellow hikers on muddy days. The course is pretty obvious, but I can also distinguish northbound vs southbound, who passed by more recently, their rough shoe size, and sometimes whether or not they pronate. So watch out, I’m creeping on your footwear.
Ah, the elusive Cascadia. Notice the rows of horizontal ridges in front of the heel.
Things are good though. We tented at the standing bear hostel, which had a very hippy-hillbilly-commune feel, with an honor system pantry, and free roaming chickens. Last night we made it into Newport, TN and a Super 8 to wait out some nasty weather.
As usual, the people we meet are amazing. On day 1 in the Smokies my full fuel bottle decided to empty itself completely, so I needed to find a way to cook my dinner for 4 nights. My fellow thru hikers and some section hikers stepped up and came to my rescue, letting me use their stoves. It definitely feels like I’m part of a community.
We might do one more day here, then plow forward with some big miles in the upcoming clear weather.
Trail magic tally:
2 small packs of oreos
Ham and cheese sandwich w/ lettuce
Cold root beer
Swiss cake roll
Chocolate chip cookie