AT Journey Across 2016 – 2021 Days 22 – 24
– Gatlinburg TN to Standing Bear Hostel –
The restaurant in Gatlinburg served chicken fried steak, eggs, sweet tea, gravy, biscuits and hash browns for breakfast. This was a great feeling because the night before was super cold.
Gatlinburg is a tourist type town. It has a NOC which is a very well stocked outdoor center for hiking gear. This is where another bladder mouthpiece was purchased due to mice eating most of the other one.
The dirtway was pounded by fresh slush and snow. It was difficult to decide to be hot and miserable or cold. (If you hike with a jacket or rain jacket on, it takes minutes to have it become a sauna.) Cold it was. When hiking, heat is generated because of the exercise. Squish, splash, slop, slop clomp, clomp went the path. Feeling like kids in the school yard stomping puddles for laughs, a view came into sight.
There were people and day hiking gear eveywhere. The popular viewpoint allowed 100s of miles to be seen clearly. Moving around this area was tough due to the congestion. Many day hikers were passed and greetings were exchanged.
Moving on, a sign could be seen reading “shelter .4 miles away”. After a short while, the shelter roof could be seen. This place was overflowing with limited tent sites. The previous 22 days were all like this.
The morning brings new focus and frivolity. The night froze everything solid. The ascent to the privy was like skating without skates on. Camp was broke down and the trail was followed.
45 minutes went by and other hikers were seen wearing feet spikes. Talking to them, it was found out that these were called Yak Trax. These were rubber stretch devices with circular springs for grips that fit over boots used for gripping ice.
Taking some photos, sharing stories with passers by while enjoying a snack at a shelter is the best way to pass some time.
Taking a few pictures, the next shelter for a well deserved lunch was in the near future.
Trying to catch my hiking mate was a horribly awkward ordeal. Every step with 30 pounds in the pack made travelling difficult. One step, 2 foot slide. 2 steps slide to the left. 3 steps, slide to the right. One more step was taken and it almost ended with the backpack and self at the bottom if it wasn’t for trekking poles.
Walking slowly forward, then slipping right and sliding to the ravine on the left was averted by stabbing both poles into the icy ground.
With heartbeat pounding, it happened once again resulting in being barely saved by the poles.
The warming sun
Thank god the sun was coming out and melting the icy path monster. This made travel to Cosby Shelter much easier. There was space at this one for once. Day hiker reservations take precedence over thru hikers. Night settled in the valley and only a few showed for the reservations. Slots filled in quickly in the 3 walled cabin. Drifting off, knowing only 7 miles remained to finish the Smokies, sleep came.
The edge of the Smokies
With an early start, a perfect boulder was found for a super hero style pose. Pics were taken. Approaching the final 7 miles, thank god, goodbyes and something about “been there done that” was murmured.
Standing Bear Hostel
After following the white blazes (painted on trees and rocks as a white rectangle to serve as a guide) a car with the words “write on me” could be seen with chalk ready to go. Absolutely!!! Trailnames were signed and travels continued.
The hostel eventually could be seen. It was a normal setup with bunk beds 2 tall by 2 deep and 5 rows. Frozen pizzas, candy, sodas, snacks were all available. Planters made of old hiking boots had plants growing out of them. There was a standing wooden bear believed to have been made from a chainsaw and a torch present. This was home for the night.
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