The shelters in the Smokies are all really nice. They have double bunks with fire places, benches and tables. Leaving Double Spring Gap Shelter last, I hiked up to Clingmans Dome.
The trail along the way is not as challenging as I predicted for being the highest point on the AT. The short day yesterday has helped. My calves are still taking it really hard right now though.
Clingmans Dome is the highest summit on the AT and is the third highest peak east of the Mississippi at 6,612 ft. The ramp winding up to the observation tower gives you a 360 degree view of everything above the forest that has suddenly turned alpine, the spruce and fir trees dominate at this elevation, 6,000 ft seems to be the turning point.
My trail peeps are already up there checking out the views and trying to get cell service.
This panoramic turned out weird.
The group of fellow hikers getting to know each other has grown considerably the last week. I’ve met some really interesting and friendly people. We all met up at the tower.
From left to right:
Rodents at night around shelters can be the worst nuisance on the trail. She had one get in her pack then get trapped and die. She didn’t find its crushed putrified remains for a couple days.
Flipper (now Slipper)
Shoes on the trail last an average of 400-500 miles. His sole is already “flipping” about causing him to slip and stumble to often. However after falling straight out of the upper bunk at midnight in the shelter the other night, then almost breaking his back on another slip the next day, he has permanently been renamed “Slipper”. It’s my first trail naming, err renaming.
Great guy, he came with his own name acquired years ago and it fits so well I can’t think of another one for him. He’s a strong and steady hiker with a knack for fire. I’ve done more trail miles with him jamming out with my trail tunes than anyone else. He’s the first to rise every morning at 5:30am and he’s got to be annoyed by my schedule lol.
She’s from Spain and she’s an accomplished sailor.
He carries a hatchet, it’s heavy… he’s a former Ranger with extensive medic training. He’s a highly stocked smart ass Bostonian prepared for anything, judging by his supplies, and I like him.
Genuinely nice guy. He’s a 25 year old math teacher that lost over a hundred pounds in the last 18 months with hard work. He sectioned hiked the first half of the Smokies double strapped at the hip, a large bear spray on one side and a 9mm on the other. With double strapped water bottles right behind those and a red beard, only Yosemite Sam would do. His name was Solo’s first trail naming.
We collectively made a plan to share the cost of a ride to Gatlinburg, 15 miles north. On the way to the parking lot, notice the white line representing yet another border of North Carolina and Tennessee.