March 25. Cold morning! It felt like crossing into the Smoky Mountains dropped the temperature a good 15 or 20 degrees! I sent a lot of my warm clothes home so the solution now is to just wake up and start hiking to get the furnace going. A few days ago I sliced my thumb open trying to push in my tent stake into hard ground. As my thumb was gushing blood I stuck it in my mouth and I used the other hand to find my medical kit. After opening a few different bags with one hand I realized my first aid kit is too hard to find in an emergency! A few days ago I also bruised a rib leaning on my trekking poles to push them into hard ground. I leaned, and pushed, and ouch! So now my thumb hurts when I open and close zip lock baggies, like when I eat or use the privy. My rib hurts when I sit, stand, move, stop, breath…so pretty much all the time! Still have not taken any vitamin-I and I hope not to!
With the rain rolling through Brian has been trying to perfect the changing clothes with a backpack on technique, it sort of works. He is getting good at taking his rain jacket off under his pack. One time he tried to take off a pair of tights with his pack on. He ended up laying on the side of the trail in only his briefs, that did not work as well!
March 26. Today while hiking I had a random trail thought, what if Wrigley Field’s ivy wall in Chicago was all poison ivy? I think you know what Ryan said, I thought it was funny…
Today a blanket of white flowers started coming out on the forest floor, it was really pretty! The trail through the Smokies has been really nice so far. Ryan hit his shin on a log a few days ago and it is really hurting him. We think he’ll be visiting the urgent care clinic in Gatlinburg to get that checked out.
Every time we hit a tough uphill Brian and Ryan both say “pole, pole”, pronounced like poley. I guess it is a native word they used when hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro and it means slowly, slowly. When they started saying it a few weeks back I envisioned them saying “pulley, pulley” and a pulley system to pull us up the hill. Then I started singing “Pole, Pole” to the tune of “Wolly, Bully”…I know, I thought I was crazy too, until Ryan informed me today that everyone in his group sang the same song. Good, I’m not weird! I guess it is just another way that American Pop Culture has infected the rest of the world. (Sorry if that song is stuck in your head now, welcome to my world every time we are hiking up a hill!)
I decided today that I hate trail mix.
March 27. We hiked up to Clingman’s Dome today, that was interesting! It is the tallest point on the AT, and it is also a tourist trap. There is a parking lot a half a mile from the top and we knew we were there when we started seeing overweight, out of breath, and out of shape people in their flip flops, sun visors, and brightly colored Gatlinburg t-shirts huffing and puffing up the gradual incline. I know, maybe a little mean, but true! It was funny to see everyone take a break from their half mile trek for a breather while we had just climbed to the top with 30 plus pound packs! It was a good view from the top but after a short while I was happy to get back to the trail and back in nature. We hiked a few miles down and in the afternoon Brian’s wife Ann picked us up and drove us to town. We got a hotel room, got cleaned up, and hit the Gatlinburg strip for dinner.
Today at the “Split Fork Trail” sign I exclaimed “No spoons allowed!”. Ryan didn’t think it was funny, but I did!
March 28. We had breakfast at a local buffet and after breakfast Ryan went to the clinic. He found out it is probably a bad bruise and got some meds for it. I got my new phone and spent the day setting it up. I ate my trail lunch in the hotel, Slim Jims, cheese sticks, and tortillas…not so good when you are in town near real food! I may save those trail meals in the future for the trail only. We went to pick up the food from the outfitters that we had shipped on from Fontana Dam but it didn’t arrive today so we stayed at the hotel again and had pizza at the Mellow Mushroom.
March 29. We are laying low letting Ryan’s foot heal. Breakfast buffet again this morning! We will miss that! Spent most of the day waiting at the outfitters for the food to arrive. I’m ready to get out of town and back on the trail but without my food at is hard! The only problem is that our food box is still back in Fontana Dam due to a mix up at the post office. Ryan and I spent the afternoon at the grocery store and got subs for dinner and checked back into our hotel again for a third night. Luckily they had a room available with two beds so we don’t have to share a king bed again and divide the bed with pillows down the middle! I have 32 miles to cover by Sunday morning to meet up with my cousin Justin to hike with him for a few days, I’m looking forward to it! Up early tomorrow to try to hitch a ride up to the trail! Three nights in Gatlinburg is probably enough for me (for the rest of my life)! I think the entire town is owned by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not…very interesting…
On another note, trail names. I did get a trail name recently. As we were hiking and hitting some tough hills I would take off ahead of the guys and Brian commented a few times that when I was really flying I looked like Tarzan swinging through the trees. After a few days it felt like Tarzan would be a good trail name so that is how I’m signing the trail logs. Ryan and Brian still don’t have solid trail names, but we are still The 3 Amigos!