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Unread 14 Oct 17, 04:49 PM  
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CrispyA
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Join Date: Oct 11
Touring Tennessee: Day 12 Great Smokey Mountains National Park

We had a day of hiking planned for today. We had spent some time looking at potential hikes and had settled on Charlie's Bunion, which was due to give great views. Sadly, as it was the other side of the park, we had to miss out on Juney Whank Falls, even though we really wanted to - mainly because we are 9 and could "fnar fnar" at the name

We set ourselves up for the day with cereal and scrambled eggs before making up some sandwiches - one of the really good things about being in a self-catering cabin.

On the way into the park, we stopped at Sugarlands Visitor Centre to check on the route and chat to the rangers. Then we drove into the park, finding a spot in the Newfound Gap car park to leave the car.

The walk took us along part of the Appalachian Trail which goes from Georgia to Maine. The section we were doing was around 8 miles there and back.

We hadn't got too far along the trail when we came across a group looking a little concerned. They told us there was a bear just off the trail and as we looked up, we could see a bush moving and some of the bear that was foraging in it. Although we would have loved to have got a really good look at it, it really was a bit too close for comfort. We all grouped together and did some loud clapping and the bear soon moved away. Sadly we didn't get a picture of it.

A little further along the trail, we came across this deer and were happy to spend a bit of time watching it as they don't tend to eat people!



We were enjoying our walk but it was all enclosed and there wasn't much in the way of views. Just by the deer, we heard very loud voices coming up behind us. We thought the two people they belonged would quieten down when they realised they were disturbing the peace, but no. We let them go ahead as they were just too annoying, renaming the guy Foghorn Phil.

When we got to the Bunion, however, there were great views across the valley. There is a rock you can climb on to get a really good view and we patiently waited while another family took some pictures. Then Foghorn Phil and his girlfriend climbed up and we waited for them to take their pictures and come back down. But no - Foghorn took some photos, then got out his packed lunch and proceeded to hog the main viewing spot so nobody else could get their own pictures up there. What an absolute tool.

We did manage to get some photos though and it was pretty cool to watch the mist suddenly come across and show why the Smokey Mountains are so called.





We had a snack and glared at Foghorn when he decided he was going to try climbing up the rockface right above us. I was about to tell him to get knotted as if he'd fallen, he would have landed right on top of us, but then he realised that he wasn't as good a climber as he thought and gave it a miss. Seriously, he was a complete tool.

The mist drifted away almost as quickly as it had some, so we could get a clearer photo.



Then we headed back along the trail, pausing at this sign warning you to keep hold of children so we could take a silly picture.



There was a shelter just off the trail where we would have liked to have had our picnic, but there was someone sleeping in it, so it would have felt a bit weird. There was a fresh water source there, so we had a drink, having been told by the rangers that this was good water.

A bit further along, we found a picnic spot and had our sandwiches, which tasted so good as we had really worked for them! Then we took another album cover shot.



We were pretty tired when we got back to the car park but we had really enjoyed the hike. We also realised that we had been to North Carolina while on the walk, which was pretty cool.



After the walk, we headed to Clingman's Dome, the highest point in the park and in Tennessee itself. We chatted to a man from Colorado who was parked next to us and who was wearing a Western States T-shirt, which is the World's oldest 100 mile race. Paul has an interest in ultra running and is a member of the Bob Graham 24 hour club, so he was quite excited to meet someone who had run the Western States.

The walk up to the viewpoint is short but very steep. There were quite a few people who were really struggling with it and we were quite impressed with anybody who had managed it in flip flops! Once at the top, there are some amazing views and we were fortunate that it was a very clear day.







We also had us trying to take a picture and someone offering to take one of all of us. It is really kind when people offer but Paul ended up finding it really frustrating sometimes - especially when he was trying to frame a specific photo or get a particular view and we ended up with another picture of us that we didn't really want! The perils of being somewhat of a control freak . . . We were always too polite to say no though!

Unfortunately, the picture didn't turn out great either. Ah well.

Back in the car park, we were amazed at the amount of cars from Delaware, considering they are normally one of the hardest states to spot. We did pretty well with licence plate bingo but alas, never got the full set (curse you, Utah, North Dakota and Hawaii!)

We sort of saw a bear briefly from a distance as we drove back to the visitor centre but it was too far away to get a photo. We stopped for souvenirs but only managed a fridge magnet as there wasn't a lot else. I was hoping for a National Park hoodie or t-shirt but the choice was pretty poor, especially for women.

Going through Gatlinburg, we called an outdoor shop as Evan wanted some North Face gear but it was very expensive so we didn't bother. I'm still bemused by the popularity of North Face amongst the young folks - a few years ago, the kids wouldn't be seen dead in hi-tech walking gear!

We stopped at Food City again to get some meat for the grill - steaks this time. Hannah and I were amused and entertained by a whole shelf of cheese in a can, called E-Z Cheez. After all, it's not as if actual cheese is particularly difficult . . .

This year I was part of a workplace team in the Virgin Global Challenge - a 100 day challenge where you try to do as many steps as you can and "travel" around the world as you do so. I was wearing my step counter, as usual and at Clingman's Dome realised that I was over 29000 steps which was my biggest number by far. We then vowed that I would have to get to 30000 that day.

With this in mind, they dropped me down the road from the cabin and I got a few more steps in. With a few extra laps of the cabin when I got back, I was successful and am very proud of this total!



(Step counting was good fun on the holiday - we parked in the furthest spots from shops to get the steps up and the family enjoyed playing "guess the total" on a regular basis)

We were pretty shattered after walking 15 miles in one day, so we really enjoyed our steaks. After that, we chilled in the hot tub watching the stars before heading in for the night.
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Unread 14 Oct 17, 06:24 PM  
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Melbatb
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How exciting to see a bear (or two!)

Foghorn Phil obviously needed a course in people awareness

Great views though! And well done on the 30,000 steps. That is an achievement!
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Unread 15 Oct 17, 08:06 AM  
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WileyCoyote
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Lovely day, except Foghorn Phil, there's always one isn't there, no self awareness ...
Looked really lovely and those names, Charlies Bunion, sound s painful and as for June... Tsk tsk.
Brilliant step count , tired feet .. So nice to relax and have a home BBQ again.

I did laugh, there was a sign at one of the airports asking you to keep control of your cases.. Like they were going to run riot by themselves or something. I love how some of these things are worded. It's a cool pic opportunity !
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Unread 15 Oct 17, 08:18 AM  
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katiebaz
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Well done on the step count and your walk looked really good too, glad to see your bear repellers wearing off too!

Foghorn Phil sounds like a total ≈≈≈≈ and there is sadly always one...

Nice way to end the day in the hot tub...
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Unread 15 Oct 17, 06:10 PM  
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CrispyA
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Originally Posted by WileyCoyote View Post
Lovely day, except Foghorn Phil, there's always one isn't there, no self awareness ...
Looked really lovely and those names, Charlies Bunion, sound s painful and as for June... Tsk tsk.
Brilliant step count , tired feet .. So nice to relax and have a home BBQ again.

I did laugh, there was a sign at one of the airports asking you to keep control of your cases.. Like they were going to run riot by themselves or something. I love how some of these things are worded. It's a cool pic opportunity !
You do have to watch those cases sometimes . . .
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Unread 19 Oct 17, 10:09 PM  
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Well done on 30,000 steps. Another great day.
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