Back into the Frey (Smokeys Part 2)

N 35°39.0385′
Finally out of Gatlinburg!! My feet and joints thanked me for the relief of a 4 day rest, but they damned me on today’s ascent out of Newfound Gap.
In town, my mind was a constant blur. The sound of big trucks and the ever-present artificial light kept me on edge. In the woods, inside of this deep valley between goliath mountains, I drift off to the whoosh of wind and the falling trill of a distant bird.
My aching bones do little to dissuade me from continuing. The peace of the mind supersedes the crash and thud of the body.
N 35°45.8119′
It’s always a slow morning for us when everything is drenched. One can watch as everyone slows down in anticipation of the last task; put on your wet clothes… But eventually it gets done and we begin the chittering march out of camp.
The day began with a short ascent. After, a gentle subsidence into the valleys filled the day. The green carpets gave way to mud. The dense pines gave way to roomy hardwood forests. I sighed a slightly-happy-to-get-out-of-the-Smokeys and a see-ya-later-beautiful when I was greeted by the familiar mountain laurel hallways.
Today’s end featured a stunning place to call home. Mt Crammer Firetower featured a 360° view of the Smokey’s. Our home for the past week was seen with our home for the next weeks.
The quite day gave way to a fierce night. The fog winded its fingers through the mountains into the valley. Thunder boomed in the distance as the storms rolled closer.
The structure heaved with crashing waves of wind. Torrents of water violently shook windows. Light filled the gaps left by the shaking cracks.
Standing Bear Farms
The morning air was still and heavy with a familiar white void. I’d gotten enough views the night before. However, the mighty Smokey’s showed their strength another time.
The vista, cleared by the towers of granite, showed low hanging clouds creeping through valleys in the West. In the East showers battered the low laying mountains. For the moment it was calm and beautiful.
As it does here, it rained. The walk down became a slippery mud-slide. I exchanged kind words with SomeDave. Miles were gone before we knew it.
The weather cleared. The sun poked out. The descent showcased the new lime-green leaves of spring. We stopped in to Davenport Gap Shelter on a whim.
Others drudged in from the storm- cold, wet, and tired. The change of the season apparent, conversation started on the possibility of forging. SomeDave turned his head to spot a Morell mushroom. A frenzy ensued! I and a couple others scoured the hill side- I found 7!
Sour faces changed to ones of glee. Blaze cooked the morels with forged ramps, a bit of olive oil and salt. It’s spring dudes!
The day ended here at Standing bear. Lumen and Bucket waiting with chicken tenders welcomed me to the island of civilization. Nacho night filled the belly more. Dogs, a cat and a baby made the heart sing a little louder still.

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