November 24, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

November 19-24, 2010

Organized by: Emily Riddle

This Thanksgiving Break trip to the Great Smoky Mountains was a little more "intense" than the other trip that went out. The group average was 10 miles per day, but the work was worth it. The following is a recount of the events during the trip as told by Emily [when you see these I added a comment].

The very spooky night our last night in the backcountry. Extremely large amounts of mist/ fog that limited our visibility to approximately 10[!] feet. Felt like a scene from "The Mist'... seriously. We were all ready for a foreign animal [watch out for those immigrant bears] or zombie attack at any moment. Along with the mist, the extremely high winds blowing our tarps around all night made for about 10 hours with very little sleep.

Aside from the spooky night at Icewater shelter the trip was FABULOUS! Many great expansive vistas - Charlie's Bunion is just one. The 3rd day on the trail we hiked along the AT along the state line between TN and NC. We could see for miles and miles over the mountain ranges of both states - pretty awesome. Also, along the AT shelters, bear bag ropes, and outhouses are established in the backcountry.. yes it is very luxurious. [You needed Sherpas]

Oh.. and many many pudding packs were eaten during our short stint in the backcountry (8 by me alone... )[funny, considering you don't even eat cookies.].. delicious to say the least. [cookies everywhere are crying]

Use the bear bag ropes provided - bears are a known problem. [especially the foreign ones...]
Be prepared to hike with lots of elevation change - we were only hiking 8-11 mile days and were sufficiently tuckered out. One could easily hike for 3 to 8 hours.. uphill the entire time. However, the views and vistas are well well worth it.
Also, make sure you at least take a drive to the top of Clingman's Dome (6,643 ft). It is the 3rd highest peak east of the Mississippi River just short of Mount Mitchell (6,684 ft) and Mount Craig (6,647 ft).

One last thing.. Gatlinburg, TN is a crazy tourist town.. [I've been there] if anyone else does a similar trip, time budget for at least a bit of time to walk around the town.. it is filled with an upside-down house, a titanic replica thing [it's just as random as you'd think, considering TN is landlocked], castles, go carts, ski lifts over the town, Ripley's believe-it-or-not, hard rock cafe, and many more ridiculous attractions.

Get outside and explore!

Members in Attendance:
Greg Smith
Mike Collins
Catherine Hewlett
Emily Riddle

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