Smokey Mountains Day 2: Tennessee

I’ve traversed Georgia and crossed through North Carolina and into Tennessee.

Then back into North Carolina, then back into Tennessee… again and again. The Appalachian Trail follows along the boundary of the two states for a good while, weaving back and forth as you travel the ridge line.

I’m guessing the state boundary is just a straight line drawn between the official geological survey markers, like this one at the summit of Thunderhead Mountain.

Tomorrow morning, after 2 miles, I’ll hit 200 miles total trail distance. The reality is there’s an easy 1-3 miles of extra every day.

By the time you adventure down small side trails for scenic views and fire towers, then seek and refill water, wash stuff, hang food, find or make a privy… ya, I crossed 200 some time back.

Water is more sparse now. More careful planning of refills needs to be considered each morning. If there is one thing the GutHook app does above all else, it helps you plan your water for the day. Tomorrow for instance there are no springs or streams between shelters.

In the Smokies you basically have 2 daily options, 6 or 12 miles, to make it to a shelter. I’ve chosen 12 the last 2 days. Tomorrow is only a 7 mile day as the next shelter is closed due to bear activity being to sever.

So hopefully you recorded which shelters are closed before coming in the park and consider that in your planning. The next option is a 21 mile hike. That’s simply not doable in the Smokies for me, or frankly anyone else I’ve met out here. Well maybe Jermey the former marine, but those military guys do tend to carry heavy loads it seems. Hell I think his backpack weighs 5 lbs by itself.

Lunch today on the trail is a buffet of nuts, peanut butter in hiker bread (tortillas) and a fruit and vegetable bar that reminds me of a fruit rollup when I was a kid.

Dinner with a warm fire, it’s still a bit chilly up here. Tonight’s random grab bag selection of various flavored tuna or chicken packages with noodles was spicy buffalo tuna in cheesy broccoli rice. Any combo out here tastes amazing.

The calories certainly burn away. I was at my high school weight again as of a week ago. Don’t want to loose to much. I’m adding 2 Breakfast Essentials a day to my daily food ration. I pretend its hot chocolate by the fire before retiring. Good stuff.

On the way down to a piped spring to wash my pot and refill all my water containers, I joked to myself that of course now would be when I have my first bear encounter, with my spray still sitting in my backpack up above. On the way up, joke turned to reality.

A small solo bear dropped out of a tree about 20 feet from me, yet big enough to hope mama wasn’t around. Maybe this is his first year out? I’m not used to looking up for predators…

We play a coy game for about 90 seconds. After the initial startle, as I’m staring at him, his stance and gaze becomes more intense. I feign aloofness and advert my gaze and slowly begin to ascend again while frantically trying to unlock my phone. My fingers are still to wet and cold from washing my pot.

I pause again, the bear repositions around a tree and we watch each other, now about 20 yards away. He doesn’t seem very fond of my gaze, but obviously isn’t aggressive. He just wants to get away from me. I push on and continue to camp. I didn’t get any good footage.

His rear disappears at the top right of the frame pretty quickly. I’m totally shocked how quite and stealthy they are despite all the debris on the ground.

Today’s final stats

One thought on “Smokey Mountains Day 2: Tennessee

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  1. Betcha had to change your shorts after that one! Wow! Just imagining you State down a bear brought a little chuckle from deep with in! And the phone, rattlesnakes or bears! Never mind the BEAR SPRAY YOU BOUGHT, gotta get my phone! Glad you weren’t anyone’s dinner! Blaze on and WOOHOO to 200 miles!!!!


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