Smells like teen (ok, middle age) spiritJune 10, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C
We decided it was time to test our overnight gear (& ourselves) by doing some proper back country tramping (aka hiking to any non-kiwis reading). Once our permits were in order drove up to the top of the park to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smokies, and set off from that horribly busy car park (10 million visitors per year). Fortunately it didn't take long to lose the crowds.
Every way was downhill, and we chose the Forney Creek trail. It went down pretty steep to start which was a little disconcerting as our map had no contours and boded ominously for the following day, but all was going well until we came across a fairly significant creek crossing. After pondering our options Phil decided to give stone hopping a try and promptly ended up submerged up to his knees. A few crossings later there was a fallen tree and Phil had been watching too much Bear Grylls to not give it a try! We weren't very glamorous but we got across dry(ish).
We arrived at our campsite only a mere 10 miles or so and slightly soggy but very glad to stop, pitched our tent in a sweet spot with stone chair table and fireplace. A quick dip in the freezing river washed off some of that 'eau de woods'. We made sure all food, toothpaste etc was packed and pulled up our bags on the bear pulleys then settled down for the night, trying not to think about the bear 'jerky' attack that one of the friendly fishermen told us happened nearby last season! Jo took gold medal at the Marshmallow Olympics, but the Bundy and Coke was the real prize!
We awoke with somewhat achey backs, legs, shoulders (OK just about everything ached) & faced the 4,500 feet walk back up to the top. After 21 hours without seeing anyone else (so we definitely got away from it all...) found civilisation again at Andrews Bald an amazing clearing with wild pink rhododendrons & orange laurel blooming with a breathtaking view, which made the climb & aches all worthwhile. Seeing the Google Earth camera at the top made us realise that despite the effort it was definitely a privilege to be there in person.
The hot shower was glorious & we collapsed into our (now seemingly) luxurious, Elvis bed - bliss.Read more