Mt Collins Shelter (5,830 feet) mile 202.8 to Newfound Gap (4,996 feet) mile 207.7 for a whopping 4.9 mile day!!!
Today was a big stopping point for a lot of other through hikers.
Not really for any other reason than to go into Gatlinburg to resupply. You see, most of us out here carry about five days worth of food, anymore than that and it gets too heavy, plus, there is access to a town every 3 to 5 days so it’s fairly easy to resupply. Some towns, like Gatlinburg, are more of a pain because they are pretty far off and have lots of traffic, but so far, this is the worst. Like all national parks it seems, there is construction on the roads, and then the tourist town of Gatlinburg as a whole makes it difficult to get in and out quickly.
Most of today was a downhill hike, but it was rocky and it was littered with roots. A large majority of the trail is this way though, and while listening to a podcast on trail, I learned that it has not always been this way, you see, over time the dirt that covers these roots and rocks gets hiked on and loosened up, then it rains and all of that loose dirt washes away exposing these tripping hazards which in turn make the trail what it is. From time to time one will see a new path being created around these nasty, ankle twisting, knee buckling, “land mines”, just waiting to try to throw you to the ground. There, the process starts all over again and widens the out even more.
Today, I saw a super cool water source! It was at mile 204.4 and it was literally coming right out of a rock. Of course this rock was probably sitting over a spring and the water has just made it’s way through over time, but it was still cool!!
Just 1.9 miles from Newfound gap was a parking area for Indian Grave Gap, one of the many hiking trails through the GSMNP, at this parking lot was some trail magic!! If I haven’t talked about trail magic before, it is not a disappearing act, no one gets sawed in half, and no rabbits appear out of a hat, it is when trail angels take time out of their day to go to a trail crossing and do a selfless act of giving tired weary hikers, a cold drink, or even better, some form of food, or a place to put their trash (hikers hate carrying trash, it’s stupid weight we don’t need!). Talking to the trail angels, they told us that they had to pay to get a permit to provide trail magic, and they could not prep any food. This meant that they could only provide fruit and other snacks, no burgers, not even a salad!
Making it up the last little climb and in to Newfound Gap I noticed a North Carolina/Tennessee state line sign,
I think it is because there are so many tourist here looking at the amazing views and people congregate here at a big parking area.
I say this because if you look at a map of the Appalachian Trail, it winds back and forth, time and time again, mile after mile, and there is not a sign at each and every crossing like the sign at North Carolina and Georgia. In fact, it does this from Doe Knob which is on the NC/TN line all the way up to Roan Mountain, TN, a 229.2 mile stretch!