I am absolutely, positively, exhausted.
We awoke at 6:30AM this morning and got ready as quick as we could to leave the house. I snagged a quick bowl of oatmeal before putting on my jacket and loading up the car with my mom, dad, and brother. We picked up two of my cousins by 7:30AM and were on our way to Clingmans Dome (yes, the place where we started our last hike). This time we hiked eight miles from Clingmans Dome down to Newfound Gap. Piece by piece my parents and I are hiking the Appalachian Trail that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains – and we take along who ever is brave enough to come with us.
The day began dreary and clouds hung in the sky, threatening rain. Yet, by the time we reached the top of the mountain, the weather had cleared up. Again, we were on top of the world and could see for miles. There was still some cloud coverage at lower elevations, so we were looking out onto the tops of clouds. It was quite the motivation that launched us up the first, rather steep, half mile to the lookout tower that is Clingmans Dome. The panorama was stunning.
After we gazed over mountaintops and clouds, we got on the Appalachian Trail and began the more intense part of our journey. Although our trek was mostly downhill, we definitely endured some significant uphill stretches of trail. The trail itself was muddy most of the way. Thus we had to navigate creatively around the puddles.
I often caught myself in a trance of staring at rocks and calculating my next move. When I caught myself, I would immediately look up and take in the scenery. The forest was enclosed around us, and every now and then, we would come upon a break in the trees where we could see the mountains sprawling out into the distance.
The trail conversation was light and humorous. We were all pitching in, trying to help come up with trail names for my cousins.
Toward the end of the trip, the last two miles, our legs began to drag a bit as the hike was beginning to take its toll. Nevertheless, we emerged from the trail at Newfound Gap andenjoyed a feast of snacks in the parking lot.
The trip was definitely a different excursion because we were with a larger group, yet still enjoyable. Plus, we were rather fortunate to have great weather again – partly cloudy, clear skies, no rain, and springtime temperatures.
Here’s to another section of the GSM-AT done!