Friday, April 23, 2010

And there I was, in a cage with eight juvenile delinquents....

This update is about my time from Gatlinburg, TN to Hot Springs, NC (miles 200 to 270).  Right now I'm in Erwin (mile 340).  I will follow with details about Hot Springs to Erwin, TN later.  Sorry, computer time is limited and rushed always.

I left Gatlinburg in a hurry in an attempt to rush ahead of the party crowd.  It was getting to be a little too much.  I was more than happy to leave.  A Canadian hiker remarked that Gatlinburg is like "America-land", or how foreigners perceive America.  Overweight and tacky. So I left.  At Newfound Gap Hercules and I talked to some tourists who were amazed that we were hiking all the way to Maine.  I agree, I am still amazed too!

The rest of our time in the Smoky Mountains was wonderful.   I still can't believe that the weather was 100% perfect the whole time that I was there.  We had great views from the ridges, sun, and cloudless skies.  The last night in the Smokies was spent at the Davenport Gap Shelter, just a few miles from the park boundary.  I was sort of unhappy to be spending the night in a shelter that had a cage in front of it (to keep bears out or hikers in?) but I was with some great people.

As we were falling asleep I decided that I needed to pee. As I undid the latch on the cage, I looked out into the dusk (yes, we go to bed before dark) and saw a dozen people in prison uniforms walking down the trail towards me.  It was creepy- they reminded me of the others from the TV show Lost.  Turns out that they were part of a youth therapy camp from Alabama and were allowed to come to the Smokies as a reward for good behavior.  And they had a permit, while we didn't, so we spent the night packed like sardines in the cage with the juvenile delinquents.

The worst part of all was that I couldn't sleep because one of them was wearing perfume and after all of this time smelling trees and B.O., perfume makes me nauseated. And Day Tripper snored all night.  And so ended my experience in the Smoky Mountain National Park.

The following morning I stopped at Standing Bear Hostel to split a Digiorno pizza with HDMama.  Great breakfast.  It did a great job of fueling a mega uphill, but I was hiking with Day Tripper and with him time passes really easily even when the terrain is tough.  We talk about everything and sometimes nothing and that's ok.  I'm thankful for some good hiking partners.

The few days between Standing Bear and Hot Springs were a blur except for the sunset from the top of Max Patch- one of the top 10 moments of the hike so far.

We pushed into Hot Springs, mile 270, where Day Tripper had to get off the trail.  I did laundry and stayed at Elmer's Sunnybank Inn, a very hiker-friendly place that I definitely recommend.  We had a delicious organic vegetarian meal of vegetable curry.  I am generally opposed to vegetarian food but it hit the spot.  I also watched a movie for the first time in months and it was awesome.

What I/we have learned the past week or so: find people that bring out the best in you. I realized that while the guys I was hiking with had what they thought was my best interest in mind, in the long run it was good for me to branch out.  To be frank, I have been surprised about the alcoholism and drug use on the trail.  That's why we pushed hard away from a few people after Gatlinburg.  It's easy to stand my ground and I am slowly finding my niche here. 

Also, I'm 100% healthy.  No blisters, knees are great, I'm eating enough, and I'm wearing sunscreen.

More on Hot Springs, etc later hopefully! The line for the computer is long.


  1. When I saw your post on FB saying you were in Erwin, I knew that meant an update on your blog. Love your take away point from this post - find people who bring out the best in you. Always great to read of your adventures and to hear you are doing well! Many continued blessings and universe love to you!

  2. Great post, glad your healthy and having a great adventure! Can't wait to hear more.

  3. Thunder - I need pictures =)

    Love you and hope you enjoy the package awaiting you in VA!