Miles 200-300: Clingman’s/Mt Love to Jerry Cabin Shelter
Miles 200-300 were chocked full of unforgettable experiences! Coming down from Clingman’s Dome, we met Andrew’s parents at Newfound Gap on the border on TN & NC in the Smokies. Took a zero day at their home in Talbott. Our first day back on the trail was the most scenic to date with 7 panoramic views of the Smokies, including Charlie’s Bunion. The next day offered similar vistas as we walked on the ridge line with mountains on both sides. Before leaving the Smokies, we took a side trail up to Mt Cammerer for one last 360. Passed under I-40, stopped at Standing Bear to pick up a mail drop, and then hopped back onto the trail for a steep incline. The incline continued the next morning but was made worth it with views from Snowbird Mountain and Max Patch. From there, we had a few uphills to Walnut and Bluff Mountains and the rest was downhill to Hot Springs (elevation 1,326). Hot Springs is a unique trail town because the white blazes lead all the way down Main St to the French Broad (3rd oldest river in the world). The following 25 miles or so were quite challenging and everyone was exhausted from spending time in town (Hot Springs is referred to as a “vortex” because hikers can get sucked in for days). Blackstack Cliffs & Big Firescald Bald were incredible vantage points. Howard’s Rock is not yet in the guidebook but it commemorates a trail builder’s volunteerism and hard work. Jerry Cabin Shelter is at 300.1. Nothing special but still a landmark for us!
Highlights and Surprises
Spending time in Talbot, TN was definitely a highlight. There’s no place like home! We were able to do a full shake down, go to REI, and be well fed! Andrew caved and replaced his old pack with an Osprey Exos 58 Liter. The Exos is 4.5 pounds lighter and feels great! It is one of the most common packs on the trail. We also downsized our MSR fuel bottle from a 33 oz to a 20 oz. We are still crunching the numbers, but we think we can boil upwards of 9 days of hot meals and drinks with 20 ounces of white gas.
TRAIL MAGIC! Sundays are awesome… group of 4 locals from TN that provided trail magic on top of Snowbird. Not just any trail magic but homemade ice cream, strawberry shortcake, banana bread, fudge, cold drinks, first aid, etc, etc. They were more equipped than some resupplies that we’ve seen! It came out of no where and was completely unexpected. Same day, we also received trail magic in the form of beer/snacks/fruit on top of Max Patch by not just 1 past thru-hiker but 2!
Sometimes in life, it’s good to take risks. A friend of ours, Jo Jones, insisted that her sister would love to host us in NC. We contacted Salene & Steve and they met us for lunch at Smokey Mt Diner in Hot Springs. They took us back to their incredible home in Black Mt and treated us as honored guests, despite the fact we hadn’t showered in days. Dinner was amazing and so was breakfast at Louisa’s. When they dropped us back off, they said we have family in Black Mt. We sure do!! Hope to visit again after the trail.
One thing that has surprised us, but probably shouldn’t, is just how hard thru hiking really is! Blisters, gear falling apart, long days, rain, etc. The joy is real, but the pain is too. These are the trials but the trail is worth it!
Favorite Recipes from 3rd 100 miles
BBQ Black Beans
1.5 cup black beans, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1 cup bacon TVP, 1/2 cup red/green peppers, pinch jalopenos, 2 Tbs BBQ seasoning, 1 tsp salt, generous coconut oil
3/4 cup rice, 1/2 cup black beans, 1/2 cup dried peaches (home picked & dried!), 1/2 Tbsp jalopenos, 2 Tbsp red/green peppers, generous olive oil, 1 Tbsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
2 cups couscous, 1/2 cup TVP bacon, 1/4 cup homegrown/dehydrated sungold tomatoes, beef jerky bits, 4 slices cheese, salt & pepper, generous olive oil
Where We Stayed/Mileage
We crossed mile 200 on day 20 at Clingman’s Dome/Mt Love (13.5 total on day 20, 2.8 past mile 200), Carberrys house (4.3 and then a zero), Peck’s Corner (10.2), Cosby Knob (12.6), Painter Branch (12.8), Max Patch (11.2), Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs (19.8), Salene & Steve’s in Black Mt outside of Asheville (0), Spring Mt (11), Jerry Cabin (15.4)
Squirrels, chipmunks, lizard, salamanders, crayfish, toad, white tailed deer
What We’re Reading
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and The Naked Truth: Learning to See as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr.
Richard Rohr’s book has some great practices to help readers see with the ‘Third Eye” and avoid dualistic thinking. These are great practices that can draw us back to the present when we are distracted by Trials or even just thoughts about future Trials.
Trail Beta for Future Hikers
- Hike on the weekends! Trail magic is more abundant and people are very generous!!! You’ll spend too much money in town anyway.
- Cowboy camping on Max Patch will be a forever memory. If it’s not too windy I’d highly recommend it. AWOL doesn’t have it marked as a camping spot in the book but there is nothing saying that you can’t camp there… just no fires.
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