Time for bed again, so this one will be short.
As you can see, I started out in a fog this morning. Some people would say
I'm always in a fog!
I had a half-mile walk up a paved road to get to the AT at Clingman's Dome.
That was the only way I could shorten yesterday's run to "only" 31 miles.
Otherwise, I'd have to go 39 miles to Newfound Gap.
Today's run was truly an easy day. I even finished it faster than we
predicted, only the second or third time that has happened so far during this adventure run.
I slept a solid ten hours last night and woke up feeling recharged and ready
to go again. I think I'm starting to adapt to this life on the Trail! We had a
large breakfast and drove nearly an hour to Clingman's Dome. Since it was so
foggy and windy, Jim wasn't interested in going up to the tower. We said
goodbye in the parking lot.
Once on the Trail, I really loved the whole run today. Maybe that was because
it was mostly downhill to Newfound Gap! For the first thirty minutes I was
thinking, "Wow, I really recovered well from yesterday's run." I had to dodge a
lot of slick rocks and logs used as water bars on the Trail, but it felt good
going down from Clingman's Dome through the misty, dream-like forest full of
moss and dripping trees.
Then reality hit me as soon as I hit my first climb UP. My muscles weren't
sore, but they were sure fatigued! Thank goodness the climbs today were few and
gradual, so unlike the brutally steep ascents from yesterday.
I had my second fall of the trek after it started raining hard. I slipped in
some mud and landed in soft mud and moss. The worst part was bending my right
knee (the one I've had problems with recently) more than it likes to bend. But
it didn't hurt after I got up, and I could continue running OK.
The spruce and fir trees smell so good at 6,000 feet. I was sorry when I
dropped lower into the hardwoods again.
I came to an interesting grate used like the wooden stiles in Virginia to get
over fences. An area about a mile before Newfound Gap is fenced off to protect
the beech trees from non-native wild pigs that were introduced to the area in
the 1940s. There was another grate about a quarter mile later.
On a Saturday in May, I expected this short section of the AT to be packed
because of the easy access. The road to Clingman's Dome is visible several
times, and it would be easy to use for a day hike. Alas, the rain apparently
scared off the day hikers, because I saw only five today in the 2:40
hours I was on
the Trail in the afternoon. I was happy that three of them were women! Need more
women hiking out here.
When I got to my end point at Newfound Gap on the very busy US 441 that
winds through the center of the Smokies, Jim and I walked around and read the
signs and plaques about the generous donations of the Rockefeller family that
helped make possible the acquisition of much of the land for the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park, which was dedicated in 1940.
Tomorrow's another long day - about 31 miles from Newfound Gap to Davenport
Gap on the eastern edge of the Smokies.
I'm over 200 miles now!