I’m in Harper’s Ferry right now, after just having hitched to their public library with the intent of catching up on a blog post or two. So here we go.
After Clingman’s Dome we wanted to go into Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was the only morning of bad weather we had throughout the entire Smokies. It was cold, rainy, windy, and we couldn’t for the life of us get a hitch into town.
Finally we found out a church group does regular shuttles into town and all we had to do was wait for the next one. Well, with the weather being so terrible, I opted to wait in the bathroom (which was heated and actually quite nice).
We finally made it to Gatlinburg, and it was different than any trail town I had been in thus far. It’s a tourist town, so there were flashy attractions, gimmicky souvenir shops, and families on vacation filling the streets. While the flood of “city folk” were a bit annoying, I was grateful for the vast array of restaurant choices. I had (almost) a whole bag of cajun fries from Five Guys, a dairy-free milkshake from Ben and Jerry’s, and a vegan pizza from Mellow Mushroom. Definitely the best food I had eaten since the start.
While ordering at Five Guys, this conversation ensued:
Me: “One large cajun fry, please.”
Employee: “You know a large fry feeds four adults, right?”
Me: “Or one thru-hiker..”
I would like to say I ate the entire bag (it was sure close, though) but unfortunately my overfull stomach won over my need to prove him wrong. Instead I walked away with a stomach ache and had to immediately go back to the hotel and lay down, a mistake I’ve made only once.
At the hotel, once I was feeling better, I did some bathtub laundry, which is pretty much just soaking your dirty hiker clothes in hot water in the bathtub when you’re too cheap to pay for laundry services.
The next day we got back on trail and proceeded to enjoy the Smokies with impeccable weather.
I also found a tree stump the looks like an avocado!
I did, however, get to see the Smoky Mountains finally live up to their namesake.
After the Smokies I made my way to Standing Bear Farm where I was lucky enough to enjoy some tasty vegan food,
and then made my way to Max Patch! Max Patch was a pretty amazing sight.
We stayed until sunset, and sat there on the grass watching the sun descend behind the mountains.
That night we decided to cowboy camp, which is camping without a shelter – you just set your sleeping pad up right on the ground. I had never cowboy camped before, but this seemed like a pretty great place for my first time. I was sure glad I did because waking up to the sunrise the next morning was absolutely incredible.
Later that day I ran into some trail magic! Trail magic is when people bring hikers food and supplies out of the goodness of their hearts. I didn’t eat the burgers but I did make myself a nice veggie sandwich and partook in the other treats as well.
My mom also likes to send me “trail magic” in the form of tiny bottles of wine, which I am very thankful for.
The trail keeps on providing beautiful sights and I get to keep on appreciating them.
And there it is! 300 MILES! I look awkward in this photo because sometimes I don’t know how to stand but here it is nonetheless.
Thanks so much to everyone following along with me on my journey! I’ll apologize again for behind so behind on my posts but know that I’m working to get caught up as soon as I can. Thank you for your patience and keep an eye out for the 400 miles post coming up next!