Into The Great Smoky Mountains

Day 143 – 144

We enjoyed our time off trail in Sevierville, TN. It is strange to think this might be our last zero. Our days on trail are numbered.

Our first zero day was filled with cold rain.  Glad not to be hiking in it but we still took the opportunity to explore the area.  The University of Tennessee in Knoxville was a short drive away.  We wandered around the campus and ducked into a few buildings to escape the rain and warm up from time to time.  Eric always enjoys seeing a new college campus.  It was fun to see their innovative robot food delivery mobiles meandering around.  We clearly stood out as not being affiliated with the campus since everyone else simply ignored them.  We thought they were hilarious and got excited seeing a few of them trying to get around each other.

We visited downtown Knoxville and grabbed a few local craft beers.  We will certainly return in the future when the weather is nicer.  Downtown had a nice vibe.  Hayley even found some local ice cream.  It doesn’t matter how cold it is, it’s always a good time for ice cream.

Once back near the hotel we ate some local BBQ.  Of course we had to get some southern BBQ.  This area is a bit overwhelming with all the neon lights and wild shows like Christmas Dinner with the Hatfield and McCoys.  It can be overwhelming at times but we are lucky it’s not at peak tourist season.

The next day we completed some chores like laundry and resupply. We still bought way too much food.  We spent time eating and relaxing. From the hotel balcony we enjoyed our coffee and watched golfers in the golf course behind the hotel.

We planned out the next few days and obtained our permit for Smoky Mountain National Park.  Prior to meeting us, Barbara and Duncan stopped in Asheville.  This is one of our favorite towns and we spent several months there in 2021.  One of the many breweries we enjoyed, One World, gave Barbara and Duncan a free beer to give to us after hearing that we’re hiking the AT.  Thank you for the trail magic One World Brewing!

The hotel also has an indoor water park. We spent some time splashing in the wave pool and riding the water slides. It’s certainly different experience than what we have been used to lately. A mini-vacation!

It was nice to be off our feet for the most of the past few days.  Our night ended by one of the fire pits on the property. We have enjoyed our time but are ready to leave the bright lights for the trail tomorrow.

Day 145

We packed up and were dropped off within a mile of Smoky Mountains National Park. We said goodbye to Barbara and Duncan and thanked them for making this multi-day drive down to Tennessee just to see us. It was fun to reminisce with them.  The first time they met us on trail was in Hanover NH. It seemed like ages ago! How far we have come!

We started the big climb out of Davenport Gap. Our bags loaded with food and winter layers. It’s going to be a cold few days in the Smoky Mountains. We dropped our permits in the drop box and officially entered the park.

A few miles in we started to get some tree snow. Flurries fell down from the branches on to us. Eric thinks the trees look like the frosted trips hairstyle that we grew up seeing in the 90s.  This phenomenon aldo created tree snow.  The sun was warm enough to melt some of the snow but it since it is so cold it turned back into snow before hitting the ground.

Not a long day today but we got the big climb up to elevation accomplished. Luckily the shelter is a stone structure with a built in fireplace. Eric labored to get a fire going. Finally it took and we enjoyed some warm hours before finally jumping into our sleeping bags with our shoes, water and electronics to prevent freezing. We are excited for tomorrow!

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