Oh Gatlinburg, TN
What a wierd mismatch coming down for the mountains and colliding with society again. We arrived in Gatlinburg, stinky and hungry, from the parking lot at Clingman’s Dome.
Clingsman peaks above 6600 feet, making it the tallest peak on the entire Appalachian Trail. It is topped with a large tower perfect for panaromic viewings of the area, it also sits at mile 199.6 on the trail. We hitched the 20 miles from the trail to downtown Gatlinburg, with a quick stop at the all you can eat pizza place on the way to run our town errands (post office, resupply, laundry etc) and later deciding to stay a night to rest and recover.
Gatlinburg is… Something else. the strip is unlike anything I’ve yet to experience. Hundreds of small shops nearly all strange purely touristy attractions like henna tattoos, cheap swords and jewellery stores all mixed in with some local flavors like moonshine and mountain themed memorabilia. Luckily we have our original tramily leader Captain, who left the trail earlier, to show show us around and have a few drinks with.
The last few days have been wonderful. The smokies are easily the most beautiful part of the trail so far. The forest is coming to life and green is fast replacing gray as the backdrop of the trail. The weather is comfortable and has been well above freezing even at the various shelters located above 5000ft.
Next, we get back to the trail and keep pushing towards Maine. Less than 2000 miles to go from here.