Well, here we are typing from Tentville again. We're camped just shy of I-40 (listening to the 18 wheelers rush by in the distance) so service is good & we figured we'd take advantage of it & give a little update.
Yesterday we said goodbye to our sweet family & got a later start from Newfound Gap with the plans of walking 10 or so miles. When we arrived @ our intended shelter, the sign stated that it was 0.4 miles off the trail...bummer! Not wanting to tack on an extra yard to our journey & having 2 hours of daylight left, we pushed on. One if the joys of the Smokies is that you cannot tent camp wherever you want. Actually, you cannot tent camp at all--you must stay in a shelter. What's crazy is that they actually enforce this with "ridge runners" - extremely fit Nazi..errrr, park rangers who hike miles & miles each day checking shelters & who is where, & asking questions like "Where are you from?" "Are you thru-hiking?" "Can I see your pass?" "Have you seen so & so?" Actually, the one we met was really nice & I know his job is to enforce the rules...but c'mon. So anyway, you get the point that pushing on to the next shelter (5.5 miles away) was a big deal. I wish we could adequately describe the trail during the evening portion of the hike yesterday. Everything is so wet & green. The moss & ferns seem to be doing their best to take over everything. Rocks, downed trees & still growing trees the same. The trail is a creek bed of smooth stone cutting through the moss, that has you walking through the water running downhill. The evergreen forest grows so thick that you feel like you're walking through a tunnel. And then there's the ever present mist, moving through trees & rolling over the surrounding mountains to fill the low areas like it has a life & mind of its own. Toward the end of our day, we crested a mountain to look down on an endless sea of clouds from above, with little green islands (the mountian tops over 6,000 feet) poking up sporadically in between. No picture will do justice, but we'll share what we were able to snag when we can.
Our first negative hikers interaction on the trail came when we arrived at the shelter after dark and were told rather rudely that the shelter was full & basically best of luck finding sleeping accommodations. Maybe the shelter was full & maybe they meant no ill will, but there was something offensive in the way they sat flicking things into the fire & telling jokes as we set up our tent on a slightly level, soaking wet patch of grass in the dark. We may have been left with hurt feelings, but a warm meal fixed in the vestibule of Tentville & eaten in our cozy bags put us to bed in tip top shape.
Today was more of the same terrain, but with much nicer weather. The highlight of our day was taking a long lunch with a new friend - Skid. He's a veteran thru-hiker / published author with the North American "Triple Crown" under his belt & a book coming out in a few weeks.
Total mileage for yesterday: 15.6
Total mileage for today: 17
Miles from Springer: 237.3
Miles to Katahdin: 1941.8
Thanks for following us from home! (: