Change In Footwear, Leaving the Smokies, and Update on Bear Activity
Change in Footwear
i was terribly disappointed when I discovered at Locust Cove Gap Campsite, mile 147.4, that a lug on the sole of my new Keen Voyager hiking shoe was coming off.
That night, I used gorilla glue to repair it. Unfortunately, it did not hold while hiking the next day. The second night, I glued the lug onto the sole again and taped it down with duct tape. However, as I hiked the following day, the duct tape loosened, so I removed it. The glue did not hold.
When I reached Keen by telephone, they agreed to ship a replacement pair of shoes to The NOC in Gatlinburg. I was relieved I had a plan. Over the next few days, I glued, applied duct tape, and used elastic cord and string to try to hold the lug in place.
When I arrived at The NOC in Gatlinburg, I realized the lug was gone. I also learned that Keen had not shipped the replacement shoes due to their shipping error. Keen has since refunded me the cost of the shoes, and I am now wearing Topo Terraventures.
My feet are feeling good in the Topos! Blisters have resolved and the toe bed is very comfortable. So perhaps this was meant to be.
Leaving the Smokies
The Smokies are magnificent! There are so many different habitats—deciduous forests with wildflowers galore (see my posts at iNaturalist under PhyllisR) and coniferous forests with lush mounds of mosses. There are endless views of mountains for the eyes to feast on. Clingman’s Dome, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail, offers a spectacular 360 degree view.
However, my left knee had taken a beating on the descent to Fontana Dam. Ascending into the Smokies, I had to deal with the defective hiking shoe and a tweaked knee. On top of those problems, the weather took a turn for the worse.
At Birch Spring Tentsite, it was so cold by about 7 p.m., that I had to leave off chatting with Lone Pine, Purple Haze, and Boots and retire to my tent. The next morning I followed Lone Pine’s advice not to eat breakfast until warming up with hiking, but that method didn’t work for me. Without eating, I lacked the necessary energy for the arduous ascents.
At Spence Field Shelter, it was so cold and windy in the morning, that I brushed my teeth without toothpaste, hurriedly ate peanut butter on a granola bar, and started hiking to warm up. Although my core warmed up quickly, it took a couple of hours of hiking for my hands to fully warm up.
At Double Springs Shelter, thankfully there was no wind. But it was below 32 degrees and my tent was frosted, as well as the grass. In addition, I could see my frozen breath. Near Clingman’s Dome, I saw small patches of snow and hoar frost.
The northern section of the Smokies did not have as dramatic elevation changes as the southern section. It also started to warm up.
I enjoyed scrambling on the rocks at Charlie’s Bunion. I also enjoyed an unnamed rock perch, where I met a group of young adults out for a few days. Below is Pawan, silhouetted in front of an ominous sky.
Since rain was forecast, I spent a night at The Discerning Hiker, one of two hostels north of the Smokies. Ken has built a beautiful cabin for 4 hikers and treats his guests like royalty. After Tinker, Tim, and I cooked and ate a delicious spaghetti dinner, Ken made us root beer floats. Below I am soaking my feet in a warm water foot bath, while enjoying the root beer float.
Update on Bear Activity
In my last post, I wrote that I had not been involved in any bear incidents. Well, that status changed at Cosby Knob Shelter in the Smokies. A group of people camped a short distance before the shelter. About 10 of us were at the shelter site, either staying in the shelter or in tents or a hammock nearby.
Around 8:30-9 p.m., as I was dozing in my tent, I heard the people at the unofficial site banging on metal objects— perhaps pots and pans. Then it was quiet for awhile. I assumed a bear had appeared and that they had scared it off.
The next thing I knew, someone nearby was yelling, “Git, Bear.” I had no idea that voice was coming from the hammock dweller, a mere 20 or so feet from me!
Next I heard Tim, who was sleeping in the shelter, and Bill, who was tenting near the shelter, yelling at the bear. I heard an air horn a few times. I learned later from Tim that the bear started moving toward the sound of the air horn. He and Bill then threw rocks at the bear. I could hear the bear running through the rhododendron thicket near my tent. Dear God.
Next I heard someone yell, “He’s behind the privy.” Cookie Butter was camped near the privy. He had not yet hung his food bag. Good grief.
Apparently a stone finally hit the bear, and it ran off and did not return that night. I heard from a dayhiker the next day that a sow and four cubs had been spotted at the Cosby Knob Trailhead. I guess there’s not yet enough wild food available to feed the population.
Hikers be careful. Hang your food bags on the bear cables provided as shown in the photo below!
I am moving on to Max Patch, a bald summit with spectacular views, and then a night at Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs, North Carolina.
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