The dragon has been slain.
Greetings all! As you probably could have guessed, it's Breeze and I'm here at the end of a very long but triumphant day in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Family and close friends can probably remember the last time Wendy and I were brave enough to venture into this park. For those of you who do not know the story, the long and short of it is basically we came up here and got our asses kicked, hard. Shuckstack Mountain, getting lost, and rain cut our 2 week scheduled trip down to just 4 days, and Wendy's parents had to come get us. That trip was a huge reality check, and we realized that there was a lot more to thru hiking than just walking in the woods.
We've been out here for over three weeks at this point and climbed all sorts of mountains, but we could both feel Shuckstack and the Smokies lingering in the distance. We've been telling people all day that this place is our Mordor. We don't have fond memories here. Once we hit the Fontana Dam, we didn't simply want to beat the mountain. We wanted to embarrass it. We put the pedal to the metal and churned out our biggest day yet: 18 miles! I'd say this particular monkey is definitely off our backs. In celebration we climbed the rickety fire tower on top of Shuckstack and quickly got down. Good lord, that tower should be condemned! What's interesting is that this time the Smokies don't seem all that bad. The trails are beautifully maintained and the shelters are in great condition. The best part about today was getting an up close and personal look at 2 deer that were grazing in the forest. They were seriously no more than 10 feet from us and didn't pay us any attention at all. I guess everything is more fun when you're prepared.
We're keeping the pedal down tomorrow too, doing 14 miles to the base of Clingman's Dome, the highest point on the AT. The Smokies are growing on me, but we don't want to linger here too long. The weather here flips like a light switch!
Talk to you soon!