I have a friend hiking the Appalachian Trail this year and his schedule (and some inclement weather) had him take a zero day in Gatlinburg, TN which gave us an opportunity to catch up with him last weekend. Here is the World Wide Wanderer (aka 3W) relaxing on the balcony of the LeConte View Motel.
He shared some photos and video from the Trail and detailed his first three weeks on the A.T. We absorbed it like a sponge, then offered to buy him dinner – a gesture that no thru-hiker would refuse (and he didn't).
Then we headed out to walk the streets of Gatlingburg. Any thru-hiker will tell you that the town is culture shock after hiking in the backcountry. Plus … there was a conference in town this weekend – which meant the streets were packed with people.
But the road was not. There was a 10K scheduled to start at 10pm, and the roads were nearly empty. So we headed to the balcony of a Mexican restaurant to watch the run. But then … the rains came
The storm did not bode well for the runners, and the race was eventually cancelled. And it did not bode well for the thru-hikers either. Many planned to take another zero day in town and wait out the storms. So our plan to hike with 3W on the A.T. was a bust. We called an audible, took a group pic, and resolved to drive Southeast in the morning (minus 3W).
Oddly, the Chattooga River near Mountain Rest, S.C. had avoided most of the storms and it was sunny when we arrived – just as the weatherman predicted.
So we shouldered our packs and hit the Chattooga River Trail – hiking upstream and northbound to a campsite that the Camel and I last visited in 2001.
After backpacking two hours, we found a nice site on the river. It wasn't the one we were shooting for, but was worthy enough. Unfortunately, I didn't have my fishing pole because there is some great water here for trout.
But the rains that plagued the thru-hikers in the Smokies did eventually find us. The storm started at 9pm and continued through the afternoon on Sunday. Good thing we had the Kelty tarp pitched tonight to give us a place to hang out.
Yet we salvaged the trip and had a chance to serve some Trail Magic to a buddy in the process. So a successful venture in my book. Go 3W Go! Here he is at Amicalola Falls State Park to start his thru-hike on March 26th.