(Although the map has photos this time, I'm going to reproduce them in the main post — image sizing in the map widget seems temperamental. Or maybe I should flickr 'em, so they're not miniature. Which way do you prefer? I have four more map-and-photo posts coming.)
In the Hot Springs mail drop, my mom sent along all our widowed gloves; I left one in the first shelter.
I have been struck throughout by fallen trees that, though I would have assumed them dead, continue to send up new shoots.
Jo and I empathized with the likelihood of his being perpetually type-cast: always the villian.
(I left another.)
Jo's sister made a request for more "everyday" pictures – we picked it up as an ongoing theme. Here, Jo cooks.
...and here, Jo blows out her stove after setting the shelter deck on fire getting flamed and jerking her pan off the stove (note the spilled water). (It is not always this exciting, though her stove is more exhuberant than mine.)
I took a walk around at sunset.
I packed in and started a register.
Anya (Smokin' Loon, who visited us with Josh / Mountain Yogi in Erwin) brought us glow-in-the-dark paint. We used it to decorate the new register (among other things).
It glows! (Independantly, my mother also sent me a few glow-in-the-dark plastic shapes, seen in the background.)
Jo got a coloring book in a mail drop, from which she tore out pages to tape into the register. I did some math, to see what our total elevation gain/loss was for the day (putting all the climbs in a row, then all the descents).
Around here, the shelters started having cables for hanging food bags; I elaborated on (and, hopefully, clarified) their instructions.
Max Patch bald, seen from below.
We occasionally directed each other to "look epic" for a photo; here it was not hard.
From the bald, we could see the coming days' ascent into the Smokies.
On Snowbird mountain, there is an FAA radio building – handily visible from far away as a landmark.
The Smokies, seen from Snowbird.
Another everyday occurence: Jo gets water.
(...and treats water.)
Shield Bug Shadow
What tree does this? (More often it is all red – as with the leaf showing the shield bug's shadow.)
We stopped in at Standing Bear Farm for lunch (a frozen pizza, cooked in the purpose-made pizza oven in the kitchen) and did some intermediate resupply (denatured alcohol, duct tape, cookies).
At Standing Bear, everything is honor system – keep a tally, leave money in an envelope in the till when you go.
On our initial climb into the Smokies, I was pleased to see some Maidenhair Fern – both because I like the plant (and don't see it often wild), and because it's the one fern species I can identify.
Davenport Shelter: Note the chain link fence across the front (anti-bear; slightly sinister) and the fireplace.
Another Jo-maildrop item finds a home.
We dutifully eat outside the fenced-in area.
Fire! Although this was one of the warmer evenings, it was one of the few we made a fire; nicer to tromp around in the forest when it's not-too-freezing and dry.
View East (during the next morning's continued ascent).
A crop of a zoomed version of the view east, Snowbird's FAA structure is visible.
Just off the trail were various chunks of metal wreckage – presumably a plane crash site.
Sunny and grassy.
There was snow on the shady sides and in the forest; in places, the forest was dense enough that it would have been difficult to walk except on the path.
I pose with the non-view.
There is a slight view.
The night previous, we got in just before it started to sprinkle; in the morning we were in a cloud, and got a few hours of dense mist before it started to seriously rain; at that point we high-tailed it to Newfound Gap where we hitched a ride (looking suitably cold and miserable) into Gatlinburg.
We took the trolley around town, for resupply and a meal.
There was piped music to match:
We arrived in Gatlinburg – the epitome of tourist towns, like all the shops of an amusement park declared independence – feeling cold and wet and miserable, but once at a hotel quickly got hot showers and pizza and strung up a clothes line to dry all our gear, and felt much restored.
(We picked the wrong hotel first – Family Inns – but the next day moved over to The Grand Prix, which was much better to us – kind owner, shuttle back to the trail, non-delayed hot water, hiker rate, donuts in the lobby for breakfast.)