Day 24 Fontana Dam Shelter to Mollies Ridge Shelter (Mile 177.7)
(Entering Great Smokey Mountains National Park)
I was amused at the white blazes painted on the back of a sign, and a drinking fountain. The trail continues to be marked regardless of whether trees are available or not.
Before entering the Smokies, I got some great views of Fontana Dam. I took my time on the mile or so to the entrance of the Smokies.
I eventually entered the Smokies and had a mostly uphill hike. I had a really enjoyable hike despite the constant uphill climbing. The weather was cool and dry.
In the Smokies, thru hikers are required to stay in shelters unless they are full. I was one of the last to get to the shelter, so had to tent. I was actually happy with that result, rather than sleeping shoulder to shoulder with other hikers.
Also, I saw a deer when I arrived at the shelter!
I had a visit from a creepy critter (caterpillar or centipede?) on my tent and watched it with my headlamp as it crawled around the outside of my tent.
Day 25 Mollies Ridge Shelter to Derrick Knob Shelter (Mile 189.8)
Today was another beautiful day to hike. Great weather and pretty trees and flowers all around.
I stopped at a shelter along the way for lunch and a hammock nap.
I had a brief encounter with wildlife on my last quarter mile of the hike. As I was hiking up a hill, I looked up and saw a family of boars running on the trail in my direction. There was a mom and three babies. All I could think to do was get off the trail, and make noise with my trekking poles. They stopped for a few seconds on tge trail and ran off the side of the trail and down a hill. (I didn’t get a picture.) And then I proceeded to hike toward whatever they were running away from… It was probably just other hikers that scared them down the hill in the first place.
Day 26 Derrick Knob Shelter to Mt Collins Shelter (Mile 202.8)
Today I got to the top of Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the AT, and I have also hiked over 200 miles on the AT!
Here is a view of Clingman’s Dome from about a mile away…
And of course, I climbed the tower and enjoyed the view.
Day 27 Mt Collins Shelter to Newfound Gap (Mile 207.7)
Today I decided to go into Gatlinburg, to enjoy a night in a hotel. I enjoyed a cool 5 mile hike first.
I got to a parking lot a Newfound Gap, and caught the last seat on a shuttle into town just as it was leaving.
I got shower, dinner at a restaurant, and walked around town. I sat and watched some geese by a bridge after dinner.