The Quarter-Trail Update (Part 2: Let It Snow)

Since I’ve been so terrible about updating this blog, here’s one massive update (in multiple parts) to let you know what I’ve been up to for the past 550 miles.

The first snow

As we spent time lounging at the NOC, the weather worsened. It started to drizzle the day we left, and by that evening, it was snowing. It’s good that shelters are so warm when they’re packed full of people! We met a whole new crew of people that evening who we’ve continued to see on the trail since.

The next day was a day of beautiful weather. Walking through the snowy forest was a new and incredible experience for me, one that I definitely enjoyed. With the weather picking back up again, the snow melted pretty fast, just in time for us to reach Fontana and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Snow in the woods

The Smokies

After spending the night in Fontana, we hitched back to the trail to do the short section to the park’s entrance. The hike up to elevation was intense, especially with a fresh resupply, but at the top we were treated to a climb up a fire tower and great views all around.

We must have been hiking through the smokies during a spring break week, because all the shelters were packed. It definitely kept the shelters warmer, but it also meant that some people who would have been too many in the shelter had to disregard park regulations and tent in the vicinity.

The Smokies were beautiful. We had misty, damp weather almost every day, but it leant a depth to the scenery that was mesmerizing. The beautiful sights like Charlie’s Bunion and Clingman’s Dome were too many to count. I was sad to leave the park and descend back to a part of the trail closer to civilization.

Sunlight in the Smokies

However, even after leaving the Smokies, the landmarks and views continued to be incredible. We got to Max Patch a couple days later and were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset (with trail magic), and a good sunrise the next morning.

Hikers sitting in sunshine

When hikers find sunshine.

After Max Patch, I was incredibly lucky and got the chance to relax, slackpack, and cook and eat delicious food in Hot Springs, thanks to the welcoming family of one of my fellow hikers. There was a hot tub, a soft bed, and multiple home-cooked meals.

The next days brought a hilarious and brief stop at a new hiker hostel called Hiker Paradise, a cold stay at a shelter with a beautiful location, and a descent off the mountain into Erwin, TN.

Have a favorite experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Share in the comments. 

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